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Rep. LaFave introduces bill to amend FOIA, bring more transparency to Michigan’s government

The legislation would create a new section of the Freedom of Information Act called the Legislative Open Records Act.
State Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) head shot with the Michigan Capitol.
State Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) head shot with the Michigan Capitol.(WLUC/Michigan House)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 11:55 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - State Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) says he introduced a bill Thursday that is part of a comprehensive plan to make the governor and state legislators more transparent and accountable to the people.

LaFave said the plan creates a new section of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) called the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA). As the law stands currently, the governor and state legislators are exempt from public records requests.

“This common-sense plan is an important step toward restoring voter confidence in government processes,” said Rep. LaFave. “Each time this plan has been introduced in the past, it received support from both sides of the aisle because government transparency isn’t a partisan issue.”

The state representative said Michigan is currently one of only two states to exempt its governor from public record requests, and is one of only six states to exclude the Legislature. Michigan has been ranked last in terms of government transparency by the Center for Public Integrity, LaFave said.

“Michigan’s rating as the state with the worst government transparency comes as no surprise to me, especially after learning our governor secretly paid hush money to her former health director,” said Rep. LaFave. “Michiganders deserve better, plain and simple, and passing LORA is essential to regaining their trust.”

The LaFave bill would specifically provide exemptions for certain records, like constituent and caucus communications, and clarify that LORA does not create a private cause of action or affect constitutional privileges and immunities.

House Bill 4391 and the rest of the bill package remain in the House Oversight Committee.

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