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Senate majority leader wants more study on FOIA bills

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The Republican leader in the state Senate may be an obstacle to a push to make the governor and legislature more transparent.

Michigan’s state government routinely gets low marks for transparency. Michigan is one of just two states that doesn't apply Freedom of Information Act rules to all of its elected officials.

Legislation introduced in the state House would make the governor’s office subject to FOIA requests. The legislature would be subject to similar rules under the Legislative Open Records Act.

Efforts to expand transparency have been tried in the past, only to run into a wall in the state Senate.

This time, the barrier may remain in place.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R- Clarklake) describes himself as a “transparency hawk.” But he’s leery of the current proposals. Shirkey says the legislation need more study.

“Otherwise we might actually have unintentional negative consequences,” Shirkey told reporters this week. “We might actually discourage negotiations, discourage conversation, and so forth… and we don’t want to do that.”

The legislation has bi-partisan support in the state House.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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