Hall: Pass FOIA reform during Sunshine Week



(The Center Square) – House Republican Leader Matt Hall urged House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, to pass reform to records requests during Sunshine Week, which celebrates government transparency.

Sunshine Week, observed this year from March 10-16, highlights the need for transparency and accountability at all levels of government.

The letter from the Richland Township Repubican said House Republicans in the minority are ready to pass 55 bills, including House Bills 5422, 5423, 5424, 5425, 5426, and 5427.

“The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to ensure public access to government records, and it’s worrisome that there are gaps in how information is shared and communicated with the public,” the letter says. “We need measures to ensure that our leaders are held accountable and that everyone has access to information necessary for informed decision-making.”

The Michigan House is deadlocked at 54-54 until an April election. Fifty-five votes are required to pass a bill out of the House.

“It’s crucial to support proposals that enhance transparency in our government, including stricter requirements for the governor and state departments to disclose documents and communications,” the letter said. “Over the past five years, numerous reports have highlighted the administration’s widespread overuse of privileges, long delays, excessive redactions, and denials in response to records requests.”

The Center Square has been billed up to $16,500 for requesting public documents from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. about projects subsidized with taxpayer money.

Michigan is one of two states where the Legislature and the governor’s office aren’t subject to FOIA or another similar open records requirement. However, local government officials such as county clerks, commissioners and other public officials are subject to FOIA.

Rep. David Martin, a Republican from Davison, and a former Genesee County Commissioner says it’s “[w]ell past time to make it easier for the people we represent to access important information about the work we’re doing on their behalf.”

The bills aim to subject legislators, the governor, and the lieutenant governor to the FOIA requirements that local government officials must follow.

Tate’s office hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

The bills seek to create a government commission to oversee FOIA requests, improve the overall process, and increase penalties for public bodies that ignore FOIA requests up to $25,000. It also increases fines for any public body that violates FOIA multiple times within two years, setting minimum fines at $7,500 for a second violation, $10,000 for a third violation, and $15,000 for a fourth or subsequent violation.

Martin said that the current transparency laws are “failing” Michiganders.

“Government records, especially those of our highest-ranking officials, are kept hidden from public view, while legitimate requests for transparency are met with bureaucratic hurdles,” Martin said in a statement. “It’s time to cut through the red tape and bring transparency to the forefront. By clarifying, modernizing, and expanding our Freedom of Information Act, we can ensure that the people of Michigan have access to the information they need to hold their government accountable.”

Read the Black Chronicle Black History Edition for Free! Click Below

Read the Black Chronicle Black History Edition for Free! Click Below



Share post:


More like this

Survey: More young adults in Washington smoke weed on a daily basis

(The Center Square) – Members of the Washington State...

Law signed allowing Memphis to send more hotel tax to FedExForum renovations

(The Center Square) – Memphis and Shelby County can...

On RV tour, Shapiro talks up America’s 250th celebration

(The Center Square) — On the heels of a...

North Carolina congressman on indefinite leave for surgery

(The Center Square) – Surgery for a base of...