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Government transparency bills clear state House; future in Senate less certain

Government records revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
Lindsey Smith
/
Michigan Radio

The governor and legislature would be subject to public records requests, under bills approved by the state House today.

“When you exempt the governor and you exempt the state legislature from the Freedom of Information Act, it’s not true transparency,” said state Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, a bill sponsor. “So this is a victory for citizens of the state of Michigan and journalists alike to learn a little more about how their government works.”

Michigan has ranked dead last in national transparency law rankings. It is one of only two states that does not subject the governor or legislature to freedom of information laws.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, says he is proud of how the vote went. 

“The fact that we passed ten bills and there was not one no vote show how committee this House of Representatives is to creating more transparency here in state government,” he said

Similar bipartisan legislation was recently introduced in the state Senate. That’s after Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Olive Twp., expressed reluctance to put the House bills up for a vote.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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