Dillon Bill Will Expand Freedom of Information Act to Legislators

Communications should be open and transparent to the public
Thursday, March 22, 2012

LANSING - State Representative Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) today introduced legislation that would subject legislators’ offices to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). State legislators are exempt from the requirements of FOIA, but other elected officials including city councils and county commissions are subject to FOIA and must make their communications available to the public when they are requested.

“I believe that government should be open and transparent, and one way to achieve this is by complying with FOIA,” said Dillon. “I don’t believe that we should stand in the way of opening up our state government to the scrutiny of the voters.”

Dillon pointed to the court case involving redistricting and the Oakland County Commission as the red flag that demands that his bill be put on the fast track for passage.

A Republican law passed last year changed Oakland County’s process for redrawing its districts from having the work done by a commission consisting of three countywide elected officials and the chairs of the Democratic and Republican county parties to the Republican-led board itself. Democrats for the first time held a majority of the reapportionment commission. Republicans objected to their maps, which were ultimately upheld by the courts, leading the Republican-led Legislature to pass the legislation in question.

Recently emails obtained through a FOIA request revealed that despite claims of good government, Oakland County Republicans were hiding political motivations as the real reason for the power grab regarding the county’s reapportionment.

“The Oakland County redistricting scandal is just the latest example of Republicans using their power to skirt the law and set special rules for themselves,” said Dillon. “It’s a disservice to citizens and a disgrace to democracy. It’s time that we all start acting like adults and take responsibility for our words and actions.”