Michigan House Republicans
Kuhn, Tisdel urge expansion of FOIA laws
RELEASE|March 14, 2024
Contact: Mark Tisdel

State Reps. Tom Kuhn and Mark Tisdel on Wednesday urged lawmakers to expand Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

The lawmakers are sponsors of a package of bills that would expand FOIA to cover the governor’s office and the Legislature. The legislation would also streamline the process to get public records and increase penalties if the government is found to have violated the law.

In addition, the plan would set up a commission to oversee FOIA requests and appeals. It would also require the government to explain what was withheld and why, if the government withholds information due to a legitimate exemption allowed by law.

The bills are currently stalled in committee.

A Democrat-sponsored resolution in support of government transparency was, however, approved on Wednesday by a voice vote by the full House. Kuhn, R-Troy, called the resolution a symbolic gesture that is ultimately meaningless.

“A resolution is nice, but how about you move some actual legislation?” Kuhn said. “A resolution doesn’t accomplish anything. We have a detailed package of bills that will meaningfully improve the public’s access to information, and it deserves a vote.”

Kuhn also pointed out that as a candidate, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer promised to unilaterally expand FOIA to include the governor’s office, even if the Legislature failed to act. Six years later, Whitmer still has not kept that promise.

Tisdel, R-Rochester Hills, spoke to his experience complying with FOIA while serving in local government.

“Before getting elected to the state Legislature I served on the Rochester Hills City Council, where FOIA was a fact of life. So if every local level of government across the state is able to comply, there’s no good reason why the Legislature and governor should be exempt,” Tisdel said. “If anything, it’s more important to have transparency the higher up the chain you go.”

Michigan has some of the weakest government transparency laws in the nation. It is one of only two states where both the legislature and the governor’s office are not subject to FOIA or a similar open records requirement.

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