Celebrating FOI day, 37 Republic and Democratic state house members Wednesday introduced 10 bills to amend the state’s FOI law, expanding it to include the Legislative branch. A 1988 state Attorney General’s Opinion had exempted the Legislature.
HB 5469-5478 would expand and amend the Michigan Freedom of Information Act creating the Legislative Open Records Act. Much of the enabling legislation duplicates the wording of the current FOI law.
HB 5469 creates the LORA. Subsequent bills require the appointment of a LORA Coordinator, paralleling the FOIA Coordinator requirement. Fees and time limits for responses are also included. HB 5477 deletes involving records requested that were transferred to the Governor or Lieutenant Governor’s office after the request was made.
The bipartisan group of legislators are: Ed McBroom, Jeremy Moss, Lee Chatfield, John Kivela, Michael Webber, Jim Runestad, Julie Plawecki,Scott Dianda, Marilyn Lane, Jon Hoadley, Kristy Pagan, David Rutledge, Jeff Irwin, Stephanie Chang, Tom Barrett,Pat Somerville, Bill LaVoy, Martin Howrylak, George Darany, Winnie Brinks, Holly Hughes, David LaGrand, John Bizon,Gary Glenn, Tim Greimel, Lisa Lyons, Sarah Roberts, Marcia Hovey-Wright, Laura Cox, Robert Wittenberg, Amanda Price,Jim Townsend, Jim Tedder, Thomas Hooker, Gary Howell, Phil Phelps, and Peter Lucido.
An 11th bill was also introduced Wednesday. With 18 sponsors, HB 5488 proposes the creation of a nine member Open Government Commission. This is similar to a bill introduced in the previous session that died in committee.
None of the bills would remove the statutory exemption currently existing for the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. However, two others bills introduced previously by Democrats, SB 716 and HB 4283, would make those individuals, as well as the legislators, subject to FOIA.
We support these bills and hope they get swift approval.