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Bill would bar redistricting panel from meeting in secret

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
Sarah Lehr
Members of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission hear feedback from the public during a public hearing at the Lansing Center on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

The Legislature has adopted a bill that would require the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to meet in public under the state’s Open Meetings Act.

The bill now goes to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her signature.

The commission was created by voters in 2018 to draw new legislative and congressional lines. Its purpose is to put the process entirely in public view and take it out of the purview of the Legislature.

The commission has come under fire for holding a closed-door meeting and refusing to release memos and a recording of the session. The commission’s attorneys say the secret meeting was necessary to discuss legal advice regarding its job of drawing new legislative and congressional district lines.

The bill headed to Whitmer’s desk would make clear that the commission cannot use that as a reason under the open meetings law to duck the public meeting requirement.

The commission is also facing a lawsuit that will be argued Wednesday before the state Supreme Court. News media organizations want a ruling that the voter-approved amendment bars the commission from holding closed-door meetings.

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