Monday, January 19, 2015

Michigan public records law to be updated this July

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 12:41 PM

Starting in July, obtaining public records in Michigan will be easier on the wallet.

The most significant change under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder this month requires any public body subject to Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to charge, at most, 10 cents per sheet for copies of public records. Any requestor of documents under FOIA can also require the documents to be produced in a digital format, or by email, unless the public body doesn't have the capability to provide the records in such a format. 

According to the law, the person requesting documents believes the public body has asked for an exorbitant fee for the records, they can file a lawsuit and ask the court to reduce the costs. Under the law, if a court finds the public body "arbitrarily and capriciously" violated state statute, a $1,000 civil fine would be assessed, money that would be deposited into Michigan's general fund. 

Media outlets constantly use FOIA laws to reveal public records on a multitude of government matters. For example, MT used documents obtained under Michigan's FOI law for a story last summer on Detroit's incinerator, and the hundreds of complaints that have been filed over odor issues related to the facility

The changes to Michigan's FOIA will be implemented July 1. 

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