[nfbmi-talk] FW: foia changes clear as mud
Terry D. Eagle
terrydeagle at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 30 19:47:53 UTC 2014
Goes to show the policrats don't want transparency in government for we the
citizens. Just what might the policrats have to hide? What dirty laundry
exists, they don't desire be shook out and aired by sunshine transparency?
A good place to start is with those opposing and diluting the law changes!
We in Michigan dearly need a FOIA sunshine Act like Florida has on the law
Information advocates say final public records legislation has been 'watered
down,' still important
By Emily Lawler | elawler at mlive.com
December 25, 2014
LANSING, MI -- The legislature last week passed a bill that standardizes the
cost public bodies can charge under the state's Freedom of Information Act
HB 4001 standardizes fees that public bodies charge for FOIA requests by
putting standards in place for things like copying fees and how much can be
for labor. Proposed in January of 2013, the legislation had been stalled in
the Senate Government Operations Committee since March of 2014.
A FOIA bill introduced by Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, made its way
through the Legislature during lame duck. MLive file photo
It was discharged and passed by the Senate during lame duck, but with
several changes. The Senate-passed bill:
. struck a provision requiring municipalities charge the hourly rate for
the lowest-paid employee capable of fulfilling the request and allowed
to contract out for the service at up to six times the minimum wage ($48.90
. deleted a provision capping the cost of somebody duplicating the records
at three times the minimum wage.
. allowed a public body to add up to 50 percent of the labor charge for
. brought the threshold of free records and indigent person can receive back
down to $20 from the House's proposed $50.
. allow a public body to charge a deposit if the total bill would exceed $50
instead of the House-passed $100.
. scaled back the potential discount a citizen would get for each day their
request was delayed from 10 percent of labor costs to 5 percent.
. changes the response time for an appeal from 10 days to 10 business days.
. split the $2,000 the House version awarded in damages to somebody who was
improperly denied a FOIA request into a $1,000 civil fine and $1,000 in
. changed the punitive damages a public body would pay for overcharging from
$1,000 in the House-passed version to $500 in the Senate-passed version.
The House passed its version in March, 102-8.
At that time,
Sponsor Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said local units of government were
using the law to cover costs and straying from its original intent.
Michigan Coalition for Open Government Board Member Jeremy Steele said the
basic intent of the legislation was still there in the latest version.
"It's a little watered down from what it was, but it's a good start," Steele
He said variable costs were one area where members of the public ran into
trouble in trying to get information from a local body.
"It's unfortunately one of the areas that they try to hide behind, and they
bury a citizen's request by essentially making it too expensive for that
to get the information they're looking for," Steele said.
Lisa McGraw, of the Michigan Press Association, said when the group started
looking at this issue four years ago, they consulted members and found "the
number one issue was the cost being anything from $0 to $1 million with
really no rationale as to how the agency or government official or whoever
to that amount."
McGraw said the legislation in its final form still has important
protections like per-page copying prices and a required itemization when
for FOIA requests.
"All in all, I mean it's not perfect. But it's getting us in a better
place," McGraw said.
The main opposition to the bill came from municipal groups. It's been agreed
to by both legislative chambers and ordered enrolled, after which it will be
presented to Gov. Rick Snyder.
Disclosure: MLive Lansing Editor Meegan Holland is a Michigan Coalition for
Open Government board member and MLive Media Group is a member of the
Emily Lawler is a Capitol/Lansing business reporter for MLive. You can reach
elawler at mlive.com,
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