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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Liquor commission agrees to reduce $1550 FOIA bill to $50

Vincent Duffy
Michigan Radio

It took a lawsuit, but the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has agreed to reduce a $1,550 bill to $50 to provide documents related to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents were requested by Michael LaFaive of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

LeFaive was seeking information related to the state's requirement that liquor wholesalers post the prices for their products with the Commission. 

LeFaive says the rule restricts competition and boosts liquor prices in Michigan higher than they would be otherwise.

Dirk Wilcox is a senior attorney for the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which filed the lawsuit.

He says the original bill for the documents included clerical labor costs for photocopying hundreds of pages, "even though we were only getting an electronic copy.  We were only asking for a flash drive to be put into the computer and for them to hit 'send.'"

Wilcox says it's important not to let agencies charge outrageous fees, which can discourage people from seeking public information.