MichiganVotes Bills

Senate panel to consider bill making governor, lawmakers eligible for FOIA

Bipartisan two-bill package from 2023 gets first hearing

The Senate oversight committee on Wednesday will consider a bill that would make Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act law apply to lawmakers and the governor’s office.

Senate Bill 670 was introduced by Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and co-sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield. Though Democrats hold a 20-18 majority in the Senate, McBroom is listed as lead sponsor. It’s rare, since Democrats took control of the House and Senate in 2023, that a Republican-introduced bill would advance.

Read it for yourself: Senate Bill 670 of 2023

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. It’s a trend he favors.

McBroom attributes his ability to work across the aisle to “good faith” he built up when Republicans held the majority, by not pushing power to the extreme.

“I knew we wouldn’t always be in the majority,” McBroom told CapCon.

McBroom said that before Michigan enacted limits in the early 1990s, people took a longer view, knowing that politics was cyclical.

“There’s more of a ‘get what I can while I can’ attitude with term limits,” McBroom said.

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 introduced the bill on Nov. 9, but the Legislature closed for the year the following week. The bill carried over to 2024, the second half of the 102nd Legislature.

Senate Bill 670 is tie-barred with Senate Bill 669, which was introduced by Moss. Bill 669 fine-tunes the law, adding cyber security protections. It also largely exempts from FOIA law notes board members take for personal during public meetings.

Steve Delie, the Mackinac Center’s director of labor policy, noted that Michigan is an outlier among states, one of only two states that exempt lawmakers and governors from FOIA.

But Delie encouraged lawmakers to strengthen the bill before it passes, by allowing fewer exceptions to the law.

“Senate Bills 669 and 670 create a two-tiered system,” Delie told CapCon. “Under these bills, the governor and legislature each have access to a significant number of new exemptions that would provide these branches with greater privileges than those afforded to other public bodies.”

The Senate Committee on Oversight meets Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

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.