Legislation aimed at government transparency resurrected in Michigan

On Wednesday legislation aimed at government transparency was resurrected in the Michigan State House.

The bipartisan bills would allow you to formally request information from the governor’s office down to the state legislature. However the bills may prompt a showdown between the State House and the State Senate.

House lawmakers from both parties are putting State Senators on the spot, putting them on notice that there needs to be more government transparency in Michigan.

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Troy (MI) resident seeks records after city manager scrutiny

Frustrated at being stonewalled on getting records on the activities of Troy’s city manager, a city resident has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the city. Ann Erickson Gault wants disclosure of public documents she requested regarding City Manager Brian Kischnick. The lawsuit, which was assigned to Oakland Circuit Judge Nanci Grant, not only seeks the requested documents about his city-owned vehicle and other matters but also the awarding of to-be-determined damages, including attorney fees, for allegedly violating the state’s open records law.

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Michigan House passes bills expanding state’s Freedom of Information Act

The Michigan State House of Representatives passed House Bills 5469-5478 on Wednesday to expand and strengthen the state’s existing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws by subjecting the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor to FOIA laws and creating the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).

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House votes to expand Michigan FOIA law

The state House passed a package of bills Wednesday that for the first time in Michigan would subject the governor's office and the Legislature to state open records laws.

The Free Press reported in 2014 that Michigan was one of only two states in which both the governor and the Legislature have blanket exemptions from public records disclosure laws.

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Open data: How access to public data is growing in Detroit

It's a bright new day for the collection, cataloging, and distribution of public data in Detroit.

And you can put the emphasis on "new." Erica Raleigh is the executive director of Data Driven Detroit (D3), a company dedicated to providing and analyzing local public data. Raleigh, D3's second hire after its founding in 2008, recalls that they spent the bulk of their time in those early days just trying to get their hands on public data.

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Michigan Supreme Court won’t define ‘public official’ in Open Meetings Act

The Michigan Supreme Court decided not to define a public official under Michigan's Open Meetings Act, with two justices dissenting, according to a court order.

In a lawsuit ongoing for more than two years that alleged violations of Michigan's Open Meetings Act by Oakley village clerk Cheryl Bolf, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments April 6 and denied the application, an April 25 order states, "because we are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court."

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Lessons in transparency from Flint, Michigan

State and local leaders have been stunned by the fiasco in Flint, Michigan, where city officials switched the water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in order to save money.

That hasty change caused older pipes to leach dangerous levels of lead that contaminated the local drinking water supply.

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How ‘the public is priced out of public records’ by Michigan universities

In Michigan, transparency comes at a cost—and a seemingly arbitrary one at that.

The Society of Professional Journalists chapter at Central Michigan University recently conducted a FOIA audit of the state’s 15 public universities. It asked for a year’s worth of information on expenses from the university presidents and governing boards, and also police reports on campus sexual assaults. The goal: to compare how universities respond to requests for public information, and how much they charge.

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