This week, Republicans and Democrats in Lansing seem to agree that it’s time to expand the state’s open record laws to cover the governor and the Legislature. Michigan is one of only a couple states that don’t already require all lawmakers to be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, along with Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside and said it might not be smooth sailing to the governor's desk.
A similar bill didn't pass last year, because it didn't include an exemption for communications received from "constituents." Some lawmakers argued that if a constituent contacts a lawmaker about a particular issue, that communication should not be subject to FOIA. The "constituent" exemption, however, could create a potential loophole, as the definition of "constituent" is up for interpretation.
This same issue could again be in play now.
Listen to the full interview above to learn how likely it is we'll see FOIA legislation passed in Lansing, potential changes to gerrymandering in Michigan and why the recent unemployment insurance fraud debacle "feels like Flint."