Section 3: MCL § 15.233 – Public records; request requirements; right to inspect, copy, or receive; subscriptions; forwarding requests; file; inspection and examination; memoranda or abstracts; rules; compilation, summary, or report of information; creation of new public record; certified copies.
(1) Except as expressly provided in section 13, upon providing a public body's FOIA coordinator with a written request that describes a public record sufficiently to enable the public body to find the public record, a person has a right to inspect, copy, or receive copies of the requested public record of the public body.
(2) Unless a requestor qualifies as indigent under section 4(2)(a) or unless a requestor asks only to inspect public records in person,
Aa requestor from a person, other than an individual who qualifies as indigent under section 4(2)(a), must include the requesting person’s requestor's complete name, address, and contact information, and, if the request is made by a person other than an individual, the complete name, address, and contact information of the person's agent who is an individual. An address must be written in compliance with United States Postal Service addressing standards. Contact information must include a valid telephone number or electronic mail address.
(3) An employee of a public body who receives a request for a public record
shall must promptly forward that request to the freedom of information act coordinator.
(4) This act does not require a public body to make a compilation, summary, or report of information, except as required in section 11.
(4) A person has a right to subscribe to future issuances of public records that are created, issued, or disseminated on a regular basis. A subscription is valid for up to 6 months, at the request of the subscriber, and is renewable.
(2)(5) A freedom of information act coordinator shall must keep a copy of all written requests for public records, the public body’s response(s), the date on which the records were produced, and the fee charged to the requestor on file for no less than 1 year. During this period, if the public body directly or indirectly administers or maintains an official internet presence, all requests and responses, including any records produced in response, shall be published thereon, or, in the event that the public body does not maintain an internet presence, shall be made available for inspection at the public body’s principle office. Requests, responses, and records required to be posted under this section shall be made available to the public no more than thirty (30) calendar days from the date records are produced.
(3)(6) A public body shall must furnish a requesting person requestor a reasonable opportunity for inspection and examination of its public records, and shall must furnish reasonable facilities for making memoranda or abstracts from its public records during the usual business hours. A public body may make reasonable rules necessary to protect its public records and to prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of its functions. A public body shall must protect public records from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction.
(7) This act does not require a public body to create a new public record, except as required in section 11, and to the extent required by this act for the furnishing of copies, or edited copies pursuant to section 14(1), of an already existing public record.
(8) The custodian of a public record
shall must, upon written request, furnish a requesting person requestor a certified copy of a public record.
(9) A public body must provide responsive records in electronic format except in those circumstances in which the production of electronic records would significantly increase the fee charged to the requestor. If the production of electronic records would increase the cost of a response by more than $20, or 10% of the overall fee, whichever is greater, the public body must notify that requestor of the difference in cost and permit the requestor to choose between the production of electronic records, or an alternative method of production. This subdivision does not apply if a public body lacks the technological capability necessary to provide records in an electronic format in the particular instance. This requirement notwithstanding, a requestor maintains the right to specify that records be produced in an alternate form, or otherwise be made available for inspection.
The changes to this section are primarily intended to decrease costs to requestors. Most notably, they make available to the public the results of all record requests of a public body for a one-year period.
- MCL § 15.232(2): This amendment clarifies that a requestor need not provide an address if they are indigent or intend to physically inspect records.
- MCL § 15.233(4) (former): This amendment eliminates a section that was frequently abused. The intent was to prevent public bodies from having to create a single, new record based on information contained in multiple documents that might come from multiple sources. That’s a reasonable limitation, but some public bodies use this section to deny requests that would require them to locate and deliver multiple documents, arguing that they are not required to compile documents. Deleting this section removes the potential for this type of misuse.
Further, this section already allows a public body to avoid creating a new record, which would include a summary of existing records. The proposed amendment maintains that limit on a public body’s responsibility. It clarifies that governments must compile records containing responsive information to fulfill a request, but they are not required to synthesize that information into a new record.
- MCL § 15.233(5): FOIA coordinators are currently not strictly required to maintain a log of FOIA requests and responses. By requiring such a log be kept, citizens will have access to the all the records that are made public through FOIA requests. It also holds public bodies more accountable for how they manage FOIA compliance. In addition, requiring requests and responsive records be posted within 30 days allows requestors interested in similar or identical records to easily obtain that information without having to file a request. This could lighten the burden of FOIA on public bodies.
- MCL § 15.233(9): This addition clarifies that a requestor is presumed to intend electronic delivery of the requested records. While a requestor remains free to request paper copies, this approach should help to alleviate delays arising from a public body initially treating a request that does not specify electronic delivery as a request for paper records. Additionally, public bodies attempting to produce paper records would face additional burdens in explaining why that method would be most beneficial to the requestor rather than the public body.