OPINION: Progress Michigan wants end to FOIA exemption for Governor, legislature

No Exemptions from Transparency: New Campaign Launched in Michigan

Progress Michigan Launches Campaign to End FOIA Exemption for Gov, Legislature

Progress Michigan announced today that the organization has launched a campaign committed to ending the exemption from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that shields the legislature and Office of the Governor from facing public scrutiny and accountability.

The campaign follows years of work by Progress Michigan to use FOIA laws to hold the state’s elected officials accountable. The group is asking average Michigan citizens to donate to the campaign via an online donation page to help cover the costs of FOIA requests, legal fees or other costs associated with ending the exemption.

“This campaign will give average Michiganders a chance to help hold our representatives in Lansing accountable by ending the exemption for the Governor and legislature,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Progress Michigan has been on the front lines of FOIA reform for years and now we are inviting others to join us as we fight to end this exemption once and for all. For too long, a cloud of secrecy has hung over these elected officials and Michiganders have had enough.”

Recently, Michigan ranked dead last in a report looking at state laws that govern transparency, ethics and accountability. As a result, the governor, his staff and members of the legislature are largely unaccountable to the public due to the fact that they can conduct their business in secret without any ability of the public to see how their elected officials are operating with their tax dollars. From the Courser-Gamrat Scandal and the failed Aramark experiment to the now far more serious Flint Water Crisis, numerous examples have shown how a lack of transparency and accountability can lead to crisis-level situations that have real impacts in the lives of people and in the communities where they live and work.

Ending FOIA exemptions for all state elected officials will help to shine a light on the inner workings of our state government and tell us whether or not our leaders are working on behalf of the people of Michigan who they were elected to serve.

“Michiganders are the ones who put Snyder in power and yet, we are denied our right to know who and what are informing his decisions that impact Michiganders every single day. It’s an injustice that must end,” Scott continued. “This campaign will give the people of Michigan one more tool to hold our representatives — who are supposed to work for us — in the halls of the Capitol Building accountable for their actions and we are determined to do anything necessary to end this ludicrous exemption.”

 

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