FOIA reform languishes in Michigan Senate


COST CONTROL: Bill passed overwhelmingly by the Michigan House would reign in fees for FOIA.

By Jack Spencer |

A measure aimed at assuring that government entities can’t use artificially inflated costs to stifle the public’s ability to obtain information is buried in a Senate committee.

It is believed that if House Bill 4001 were to be voted on by the full Senate, it would stand a good chance of passing, but with only a few session days remaining in 2014, time is running out.

HB4001 would prohibit government agencies from charging excessive fees for Freedom of Information Act request materials. After being passed by the House with an overwhelming 102-8 vote on March 20, the bill was assigned to the Senate Government Operations Committee. It has been languishing there ever since.

“This bill really would provide impactful remedies to what we feel are currently major problems in the way FOIA is executed in Michigan,” Lisa McGraw, public affairs manager for the Michigan Press Association, told Capitol Confidential. “It would make the costs much more consistent and provide consequences with teeth if responses are intentionally delayed.

“MPA is hoping that the Senate will pass this legislation soon and that the governor will sign it,” McGraw continued. “We feel it would be a great improvement in open government for Michigan’s citizens.”

The chair,am of the Senate Government Operations Committee, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, did not return a callfor comment.

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