FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
January 9, 2019
Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, [email protected]
Records Show Majority of Senators Back FOIA Reform
22 of the Senate’s 38 senators have backed opening legislature to FOIA
LANSING — A majority of the Michigan Senate have supported opening up the legislature to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in past sessions, Progress Michigan revealed today after compiling publicly available data. In past years, the Senate is where FOIA reform has stalled out, but given the records of the incoming members, Progress Michigan is calling on the Senate to pass the reforms a majority of its members support.
In total, Progress Michigan was able to find 22 members of the 2019 Michigan Senate who have sponsored legislation, voted for FOIA reform during past legislative sessions (many as state representatives), or voiced public support for the critical reform. The number means a majority of the 38 members support changes to FOIA.
“If Michigan is going to have real transparency and accountability in state government, the legislature needs to be subject to FOIA,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “According to the information we’ve been able to find, it’s clear there’s a strong majority of Senators who support this critical reform. The Senate should either adopt a rules change or quickly move legislation to open themselves up to public records requests.”
Earlier today, Progress Michigan called on the legislature to adopt a rules change to subject themselves to FOIA, directing the call to House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who has said FOIA reform is one of his top priorities this year. Given the fact that a strong, bipartisan majority of the incoming Senate has also publicly backed FOIA reform in the past, there’s no reason for delaying the change any longer.
“Our legislature has been operating in the shadows for too long and the people of Michigan have been denied an important tool in holding their elected officials accountable,” Scott continued. “The legislature should show some initiative and either pass rule changes or move legislation as soon as possible to expand FOIA. It’s time for some leadership and for our elected officials to put words into action.”
Below is the list of senators who have supported FOIA reform in past years and links to the sources for that support:
Tom Barrett: Cosponsored bills in 2017 package that passed House
Rosemary Bayer: “I support all initiatives mentioned: financial disclosure for state lawmakers, removing FOIA exemption for all branches including the governor, and prohibiting ‘pay to play’ for legislators approving contracts.”
Jeff Bizon: Cosponsored bills in 2017 package that passed House
Winnie Brinks: Cosponsored bills in 2017 package that passed House
Stephanie Chang: Cosponsored bills in 2017 package that passed House
Erika Geiss: Cosponsored bills in 2017 package that passed House
Curtis Hertel Jr.: Cosponsored SB 0083 (2017) to include legislature in FOIA
Dan Lauwers: Voted yes on bills in 2017 package that passed House
Pete Lucido: Cosponsored bills in 2017 package that passed House
Jeremy Moss: Cosponsored bills in 2017 package that passed House
Jim Runestad: Voted yes on bills in 2017 package that passed House
Sylvia Santana: Voted yes on bills in 2017 package that passed House