Senate Oversight Committee considers resolution to ensure university governing boards are subject to Open Meetings Act

Action coincides with Sunshine Week

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Oversight Committee on Tuesday heard testimony on a proposal that would require all meetings of public university governing boards to be open to the public under the Open Meetings Act.

Currently, such boards are only required to open self-determined formal sessions.

If Senate Joint Resolution E is approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Legislature, the question would be presented to Michigan voters at the next general election for approval to amend Article 8, Section 4 of the Michigan Constitution.

“Increasingly, university boards are conducting business, and making financial and other serious decisions, behind closed doors during so-called informal sessions,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, who chairs the committee and sponsored SJR E. “As public bodies, many of whom are elected, these boards, which receive and spend taxpayers’ dollars, should be required to comply with Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

“This resolution would increase transparency and accountability so students, parents and taxpayers can see decisions being made by those running these public institutions. These are the same principles our schools, towns, community colleges and the Legislature operate under.”

The committee hearing happened to coincide with Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote open government that occurs this year from March 10-16.

“I strongly support Sunshine Week and government accountability,” said McBroom. “The more we can make government transparent, the more accountable it will be to the people, and that can help foster a more trusting relationship, which is sorely needed.”

McBroom said the committee is expected to vote on SJR E in the coming weeks.