Group plans ballot drive to subject Michigan governor, lawmakers to FOIA

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Supporters of government transparency are planning to launch a ballot drive in 2022 to make Michigan’s governor and lawmakers subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Michigan is one of only two states that don’t require the governor’s office or Legislature to respond to public records requests.



Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group that has been pushing for FOIA reform for nearly a decade, announced Monday that it’s launching the ballot initiative.

“Every year it’s the same story: bills with good intentions that don’t go quite far enough and include ludicrous carve outs for the legislature in an effort to bribe Republicans to support them, slowly die on the vine because of a lack of political will or commitment to real transparency in the legislature,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said in a statement. “The public is sick of it and we’re done playing games. The people of Michigan deserve accountable and transparent government and we will be pursuing a 2022 ballot initiative to bring real transparency to Lansing. We’ve seen what elected officials like (Senate Majority Leader) Mike Shirkey say when he doesn’t know he’s being recorded, imagine what transparency into his emails could show."



Nearly every year, state lawmakers pledge to make themselves and the governor subject to FOIA, but the bills are stalled every time.

Scott said the ballot initiative would not offer loopholes.

“Our proposal will not include carve outs, no special treatment for the legislature, just straight up transparency the people of Michigan deserve,” Scott said. “The Republican controlled legislature has been Lucy with the football long enough. It’s time to move this issue beyond campaign happy talk and make it a reality.”

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