Thursday, February 9, 2017

FOIA reform coming to Michigan?

According to a 2015 ranking complied by the Center for Public Integrity, Michigan is the least transparent state in the union. This is largely because our legislature and executive branches of government are exempt from the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In response to last year's Flint Water Crisis and the Courser-Gamrat Scandal there was a bipartisan effort to reform the state's FOIA law by removing the aforementioned exemptions. Though the bill passed the House, it died in the Senate where Majority Leader, Arlan Meekhof (R-Ottawa County), never let the bill come up for a floor vote.

There is good news on the FOIA-front, though. There is a new bi-partisan effort to reform Michigan's open records laws this legislative session. Unfortunately, Meekhof believes nobody but journalists cares about having a transparent legislature. Speaking to a group of journalists in early January, Meekhof said "You guys are the only people who care about this." Gentle reader, I don't know how you feel, but I certainly would like a more transparent state government. It's embarrassing that Michigan is dead last in terms of transparency. If you agree, now may be a good time let your Senator and Representative know. Also, it couldn't hurt to give Senate Majority Leader Meekhof a ring too, and let him know that you support increased transparency for our elected officials. His office phone number is: (517) 373-6920.


Democracy, dying behind closed records
These lawmakers are pushing for more open records in Michigan
Subject Michigan Legislature to FOIA? Meekhof says MYOB
Contact Senate Majority Arlan Meekhof

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