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Lawmaker wants hard deadline for release of public records

Vincent Duffy
Michigan Radio

Government bodies should be under a firm deadline to turn over documents that citizens have requested under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act, according to Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland.  

Glenn said he plans to introduce legislation in January that would make that happen.

On December 12, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion that the current FOIA law does not set a timetable for the government to release requested documents.

Glenn said this means the government can take as long as it wants to fill a FOIA request.

"If there's not a deadline at some point when the government unit has to respond," said Glenn, "then those rights of the taxpayer to ask for public documents become meaningless."

"I think I'll start with a target date of 60 days after the filing of a FOIA request, the response must be fulfilled," said Glenn. "If it can be shorter than that, great. If it has to be longer than that to get enough votes to pass and become law, then that'll be the result."

Glenn said he's trying to find the "sweet spot" that will balance the public's right to know with a reasonable time frame for agency personnel to meet FOIA requests.