New House bill would limit cost of FOIA requests

Sep 25, 2012

Some of Michigan’s city and township officials are worried about a bill that would limit how much they could charge for public information requests. The state House Oversight, Reform, and Ethics Committee opened hearings Tuesday on measures to make it easier and cheaper to file Freedom of Information Act requests.

Bill Anderson of the Michigan Townships Association said local governments are already losing money processing requests.

“We had one township official telling us that two people have probably cost their township between $250,000 and $400,000 in costs related to FOIA fees that they were unable to recover,” he said.

The bill’s supporters say public agencies sometimes charge exorbitant fees to process the requests.

The legislation would also create a state board to handle complaints that would otherwise go to the state Court of Appeals.

Tom McMillin, the committee chair, said he hopes to hold votes on the measures before the end of the year.