Michigan House Republicans
Wozniak calls for more sunshine
RELEASE|March 12, 2024
Contact: Doug Wozniak

State Rep. Doug Wozniak, in honor of Sunshine Week, is calling for action on a package of bills that he and a dozen of his fellow Republican colleagues have co-sponsored to expand the scope and effectiveness of Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover all state government. 

The Michigan Press Association has celebrated Sunshine Week for the past 10 years to promote the greater government transparency and easier access to government records.

House Bills 5422-5427 institute a more stringent timeline under which government agencies would need to produce records andincrease fines and penalties when they fail to comply with valid FOIA requests. The plan also strengthens the ability of individuals to take civil action when government bodies improperly withhold information.

The legislation would also create the Open Government Commission to receive, investigate and act on appeals by members of the public to responses received to FOIA requests that they feel are unreasonable or incomplete. Appointees to the commission would represent various political and media entities to ensure a fair process. The commission would have the authority to investigate complaints, issue binding opinions, and impose penalties.

“I don’t think that the government agency receiving a FOIA request should be the final arbiter of whether or not they are going to honor the request short of going to court,” Wozniak said. “There needs to be an independent public body that can hold other units of government accountable to ensure citizens are not having their request arbitrarily declined.”

Violations of public trust aren’t limited to the Legislature and the governor. Last week, Attorney General Dana Nessel denied a FOIA request for communications between the two leading prosecutors assigned to prosecutions related to the Flint water crisis. Reporters wanted to better understand the decisions that led to criminal charges against former state officials. In denying the request, the attorney general’s office said that releasing the information would not serve the public and some of the material would violate attorney work product privilege.

HBs 5422-5427 are currently awaiting consideration by the House Government Operations Committee.


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