HB 4001 (Rep. Shirkey) was reintroduced from last session. Much like the bill last session, it would, among other things, limit the cost a municipality could charge for copying of records to 10 cents per page, prohibit communities from charging a copying fee for on-site inspection of public records, require a deposit from the requester not exceed $500, and allow a requester to appeal the fees charged by a community in addition to appealing a denial of request.
The League is opposed to the legislation as introduced. Rep. Shirkey has convened a workgroup that the League is a part of along with Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Broadcasters Association, Michigan Press Association and others to see if there is some middle ground. We are not opposed to reforms to the Freedom of Information Act. We think there can be a compromise worked out to benefit both local municipalities and the FOIA requesters. Local units of government need the ability to charge and recover the true costs associated with FOIA requests. In a time where people are wearing multiple hats at the local level, these requests take away from other duties they can be performing. Local units are happy to provide the information; they just need to be compensated for the costs of providing it.
The League is thankful to Rep. Shirkey and his staff for convening the workgroup and we look forward to working on this as the bill progresses.
Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0305.