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MI Lawmakers To Make "Freedom of Information" A Priority in 2019

Michigan Capitol
File Photo

The state Legislature could tackle a topic this term that it couldn’t get past the Senate before. Some lawmakers – including new leaders - are making transparency a priority.

Last term, the state House unanimously voted to open the governor’s office and the Legislature up to freedom of information requests. But they ran into a major obstacle in the Senate.

This year, incoming Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield, says the issue is still a priority.

“We need to ensure that the people we serve have access to what we’re doing here in our state," said Speaker Chatfield. "So I look forward to building that relationship and having that conversation and ensuring that we can get something done.”

And he might have an interested ear in the new Senate leadership.

Republican Senator Mike Shirkey is cautious about the changes – though not opposed to transparency. He says the devil is in the details.

"Because of technology and because of the way we communicate, differentiating between personal emails, and business emails, and legislative emails and text messages for that matter – those are the kinds of things we have to be very careful about," said Sen. Shirkey.

Incoming Democratic Senator Jeremy Moss was a Representative last term.

“We need transparency advocates on the other end of the Capitol building, so we can finally get it done," said Sen.-elect Moss. "That we can stop consistently ranking last of all states in ethics and transparency and we can actually better serve the constituents.”

Sen. Shirkey says he’s concerned about potentially revealing people’s personal information.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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