As the world continues to learn more about coronavirus and its spread, it's vital to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. However, it's also important to make sure that the information being distributed is from credible sources. To that end, Between The Lines has compiled, [...]
BY BTL STAFF
LANSING – Michigan is one of two states where state officials and lawmakers are exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests, but a few state lawmakers are working to change that.
State Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, co-sponsored HB 4283 with Reps. Brandon Dillon, Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, Brian Banks, Jeff Irwin, Gretchen Driskell, Bill LaVoy, Phil Phelps and Sam Singh in March, which was referred to the Committee on Government Operations.
Moss is backing efforts to expand Michigan’s FOIA to cover the Legislature and governor’s office.
The Michigan Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1976 as a way to ensure public access to government records. Earlier this year Gov. Snyder signed into law HB4001, which made public records cheaper and easier to obtain under state FOIA laws. Agencies can now charge no more than 10 cents per page for copies of public records and can face increased fines for delaying responses.
While it is easy to get information about the average citizen, documents related to state officials and lawmakers are prohibited for distribution. House Bill 4283 would end the exemption for the executive and legislative branches.
“People expect and deserve an open, transparent government. When the task of legislating plays out behind closed doors, our constituents begin to distrust us and lose faith in the political process,” Moss said. “We are elected to serve the people, and the only way they can know whether we are serving them honestly and fairly is if we do our jobs in the light of day.”
Moss’ call for expanding FOIA comes as two lawmakers are being investigated on suspicion of misusing taxpayer resources for personal and political reasons. House Republican leadership has hidden the full report of the investigation and denied requests to release the full version. Meanwhile, House Democrats have introduced legislation term after term that would shine more light on state government.
“Michigan is one of only two states that exempt its governor and Legislature from FOIA — even our local elected officials are subject to it,” said Moss. “In light of recent events, I believe it’s more important than ever to restore our constituents’ faith in their elected officials and allow them to hold us to account.”