MichiganVotes Bills

On Sunshine Week, Michigan lawmakers consider FOIA reform

Bills making FOIA apply to lawmakers, governor, get second hearing

The Senate Government Oversight Committee on Wednesday will have a second hearing on two bills that would make Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act apply to lawmakers and the governor, just as it applies to local and county government boards and executives.

But the hearing won’t come fast enough for its sponsors to win a Sunshine Award. That award, granted annually by the Michigan Press Association, will not be given in 2024. Sunshine Week 2024 runs from March 10 to March 16.

John Elchert, president of the association, wrote in an op-ed that “there are no Sunshine Awards being given” this year.

Elchert, who is also publisher of the Leelanau Enterprise, added: “Michigan continues to linger in the basement statistically on matters of openness when compared to other states. Despite this fact, truly little has been done to shine the sun on government activity in our state.”

Up for consideration Wednesday is a two-bill package, Senate bills 669 and 670. The first hearing on the bills was in early February.

Senate Bill 670 was introduced last November by Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township.

Senate Bill 670 would not only make lawmakers and the governor’s office subject to FOIA law, it would also make House and Senate leaders appoint a FOIA coordinator for each chamber.

McBroom told Michigan Capitol Confidential he views the bill as a move that “empowers the people and disempowers the government,” a trend he says is in line with constitutional government, a trend he favors.

Senate Bill 670 is tie-barred with Senate Bill 669, which was introduced by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield. Both bills must be enacted into law for either to take effect. Bill 669 fine-tunes the law, adding cyber security protections. It also largely exempts from FOIA law notes board members take for personal use during public meetings.

Last month, the Mackinac Center’s Steve Delie testified on the FOIA package. Here’s what he said:

The committee will meet a 9 a.m. The hearing will be broadcast on Michigan Senate TV.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.