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Lawmakers recognized for work to improve access to public information, support a free and independent press

The Colorado Press Association (CPA) met in person for the first time since 2019 this past weekend for its annual CPA conference, held at the Lowery Campus Conference Center. At the event, it honored Senator Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Littleton, with its inaugural “Champion of a Free Press” award.

Colorado State Capitol and grounds. Photo by Colorado Public Radio

The award recognized them for their work to ensure local news remains a vital part of Colorado’s information and economic ecosystem and that the public has access to the information it needs for civic and daily life. Although neither legislative effort is yet law, the sense is that “progress has been made.”

Hansen was honored for collaborating with the CPA on legislation that would have updated components of the Colorado Open Records Act (known as CORA, or “CORA requests”).

“Colorado’s open record laws are key to keeping the public informed – but they could be even better and need to be modernized,” Hansen said. “I am proud to have partnered with the Colorado Press Association on the important work of making public information more accessible, and I look forward to continuing our fight to make it even easier for Coloradans to stay informed about what all of the branches of government are up to on their behalf.”

Cutter was recognized for her work on HB22-1121, which aimed to increase support for local media by requiring all state departments to spend at least 50 percent of the money they spend on advertising to Colorado residents in a fiscal year on advertising through local newspapers. (The fact that the bill is written specifying “newspapers” remains a bone of contention with local digital news organizations.)

“Local news is a critical part of a high functioning society,” said Cutter. “I’m proud to be recognized for my work to support local media, which helps keep Coloradans informed, holds elected officials accountable, and strengthens our democracy. I will continue to explore ways to support local news in Colorado.”

Ark Valley Voice is a member of the CPA, which was founded in 1878. CPA is the nonprofit trade association representing journalists, investigative reporters, and truth seekers throughout the state from print and online/digital news organizations.