Hickenlooper vetoes bill that would have sealed child autopsy reports from public view – The Denver Post


Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday vetoed a bill that would have withheld child autopsies from public inspection, delivering a victory to government transparency advocates and news organizations.

The measure, Senate Bill 223, passed both chambers with wide bipartisan support in the final days of the 2018 legislative session, backed by county coroners who said families that lose a loved one should have their privacy protected.

But it was opposed by news organizations and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, who said exempting autopsy reports from the state Open Records Act would shield elected coroners from public scrutiny. And they said it would prevent investigations like “Failed to Death,” a 2012 report by The Denver Post and KUSA-TV, which found that the state’s youth services system had failed to protect at-risk children from harm.

In an interview explaining his veto, Hickenlooper told the Associated Press that keeping child autopsy records open to the public could help prevent such tragedies from happening again.

“It’s lasting grief for families, for communities, and certainly, our heart goes out to any family who’s gone through this,” said Hickenlooper, a term-limited Democrat. “But that’s part of the reason why you want to do everything you can to ensure that it happens as rarely as possible.

“…When you look at the record — transparency and dialogue after a tragedy often brings about change. It can lead to better public policies. It can lead to more successful government protections. It can lead to more public and private resources on certain issues.”

Source : Denver Post