BY FREDA MIKLIN
Before a bill becomes a law in Greenwood Village, it must be approved by a majority of the city council at two separate meetings. The GV City Charter requires that a proposed new law be published in the next issue of the city’s legal newspaper after it receives a yes vote from the majority of the city council both times.
The first publication notifies members of the public of the council’s planned action so that they may weigh in before the new law is voted on for the second and final time. The Charter requires that the new law be published a second time after it is passed to make sure residents are aware of the new law. These rules, which are consistent with Colorado Revised Statutes § 31-116-105, are to promote transparency in government and have been followed since Greenwood Village became a city.
Recently, courts in Colorado decided that the manner in which home rule cities publicize their new laws is “a matter of local concern,” thus they need not follow state law and can make their own rules.
So as to avoid having to publish its laws in a local newspaper, printed or online, Greenwood Village will ask its voters on November 2 if it can delete the “reference to legal newspaper and allow the City Council to establish the publication requirements for ordinances, by ordinance, which may (emphasis added) include electronic publication.”
If this ballot question wins voter approval, the only thing residents will know for sure is that they cannot expect to see new laws passed by their city council published in any newspaper. The language on the ballot question says nothing definite about how, when, or where new GV laws will be published. It merely gives the sitting city council the authority to decide whatever publication method it chooses. Since the method would be determined by ordinance, that city council or a new one could change it any time and any number of times.
Editor’s note: This report was published in the interest of transparency in government. The legal newspaper of the City of Greenwood Village is not published, based, or widely available in Greenwood Village hence it is not this newspaper.