FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
March 29, 2017
Calling Their Bluff: Progress Michigan Announces Way House Republicans Can Implement FOIA Changes Without Senate Vote
House can lead by example by changing rules to follow FOIA package that passed unanimously
LANSING — Progress Michigan is calling on the Michigan House of Representatives to change its rules and implement the 10-bill package of Freedom of Information Act bills that recently passed in the House unanimously. The bills HB 4148-4157 reform the state’s FOIA laws to include the governor’s office and the legislature. Progress Michigan is bringing attention to the fact that a simple rule change could increase transparency.
“There is a pattern of these bills passing the House only to die in the Republican-controlled Senate. It’s easy to vote for these bills in the House when you’re fairly certain that Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof will not bring them up for a vote and the bills will never become law,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “When the bills were passed Republicans in the House paraded themselves in front of the media to praise them and now it’s time to put their money where their mouth is – since not one member of the House voted no on the bill package, they should immediately put their words into action and implement the contents of these bills as a rule.”
House Republicans, which control the chamber, have continually cited transparency and honest governance as reasons for improving FOIA. There are numerous examples of House Republicans singing the praises of the legislation that they routinely pass, and Progress Michigan believes they now have the opportunity to make their words a reality.
“There is no need to just take the advice from Progress Michigan. We’ve compiled clips of over 40 Republicans praising FOIA, so they should just listen to themselves and vote on a resolution to enact the rule change,” Scott continued.
House Speaker Tom Leonard recently penned an opinion piece for the Alpena News, saying “We are all public servants, and the public is demanding more transparency. It is time for us to listen.”
Rep. Tom Barrett, who has co-sponsored FOIA legislation before, told a news outlet:
“I think this is providing more accountability, more openness, more transparency for people at home to have a better sense of what their government and why we may be going in a particular direction. I think people have that right to know and have that expectation of their government.”
It’s time House Republicans took the simple step of applying their own rhetoric to their conduct.
“We found example after example of House Republicans saying how much they value transparency and how they want to expand FOIA, and now they have their chance to actually practice what they’ve been preaching,” Scott continued. “That is unless it’s all been talk and they’ve been misleading the people they represent because they know they have a backstop with the Senate Republican obstruction. Time is up on their transparency charade, they can vote to expand FOIA by enacting a rule change and until they do, we will continue to remind them.”