LANSING, Mich. — Sens. Ed McBroom and Jeremy Moss on Tuesday testified before the Senate Oversight Committee in conjunction with Sunshine Week to support legislation that would increase transparency in state government.
“A functional republic needs citizens to have confidence in their government,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “In these times, when so much of that confidence is eroded by lack of transparency in government, real corruption, and those spreading malicious conspiracies, we should make every effort to build back trust by shining a bright light of accountability on even the mundane work of our elected leaders.”
Senate Bills 232-241 would add the offices of governor and lieutenant governor to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, as well as create the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).
LORA would allow residents to request legislative records from the House and Senate but would only apply to records created after Jan. 1, 2022. The legislation also would provide for certain exemptions — mostly limited to personal information — including:
- All constituent communications.
- Personal records that would result in an unwarranted invasion of privacy, including Human Resources files and internet use records.
- Advisory communications preliminary to a final policy determination or action.
- Communications with Michigan Legislative Service Bureau bill drafters.
- Records exclusively maintained by the majority or minority caucuses.
The Center for Public Integrity ranked Michigan dead last in government accountability and integrity in their 2015 report. The state failed 10 out of 13 possible categories, including “public access to information, executive accountability, lobbying disclosure, and political financing.” Michigan is also one of two states that don’t subject their legislatures, governor’s office, or both to FOIA.
“For the past seven years, Sen. McBroom and I have been working tirelessly to shine a light on the inner workings of state government so our constituents can better understand how their elected officials are conducting business in Lansing,” said Moss, D-Southfield. “This government runs on taxpayer dollars. Public servants should not be shielded by the law when they are paid and elected by the people of Michigan.”