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Progress Michigan calls FOIA legislation "problematic"

Progress Michigan is calling attention to a bipartisan package of bills that's been introduced in the state Legislature.

House Bills 4007-4016 call for expanding Freedom of Information Act Requests to the governor's office, and opening up the Michigan Legislature to those requests through a new proposed act.

Lonnie Scott is the executive director of Progress Michigan. He says one thing that makes the bills "problematic" is that the Legislature would only be required to retain records for 30 days.

“Through our own experience with FOIA, Progress Michigan can tell you that the 30-day time frame is not nearly long enough,” Scott says.

Under current FOIA laws, some entities - such as school boards - are required to keep documents for years, depending on the type of document.

Scott says another major issue his group has with the bills is that they would appoint a special administrator to handle appeals for decisions on records requests made by the Legislature.

“The administrator of LORA - the Legislative Open Records Act - is not totally independent of the Legislature,” Scott says.

Scott says that could create a conflict of interest because the administrator would be appointed by a board made up of legislators.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.
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