Transparency Bills A “Significant Step Forward”

Reitz interviewed by Michigan Radio

Days after the Detroit Free Press published an op-ed he authored on the same topic, Mackinac Center Executive Vice President Michael Reitz was interviewed on Michigan Radio’s “Stateside” program about the need for more transparency in the executive and legislative branches.

Reitz joined host Cynthia Canty to discuss efforts to reform Michigan’s open records laws, which exempt the Legislature and Governor’s office from disclosure. House Bills 5477 and 5478, introduced by Reps. Ed McBroom and Jeremy Moss, respectively, would subject the governor to the Freedom of Information Act while a separate set of bills would establish the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).

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“Ultimately, we think this will be a good package of bills that moves forward in the Legislature,” Reitz said, noting some changes need to be made to the LORA bills to ensure true transparency. “There are a couple of ideas that we’ve discussed in terms of improving the bills but I think the legislation overall represents a very significant step forward where we’re really seriously considering requiring some records at the Legislative branch to be turned over to the public upon request.”

Reitz said an appeals process for records denial should be allowed in the courts, rather than contain it in the legislature, as is currently proposed. The current LORA bills also defines a public record as, “a writing … that has been in the possession of the public body for 15 days or more,” and Reitz said it should not take 15 days for a document to be considered public.

“The key thing is to make sure the records are properly retained,” Reitz said. “I’m not accusing anyone of bad behavior, but you wouldn’t want the scenario where someone is able to delete records before they actually become public.”

Reitz explained the suggested changes in further detail in the op-ed he co-authored with Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chairman David Holtz.

Listen to the full Stateside interview at Michigan Radio.

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