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Significant Changes to Michigan FOIA Laws Coming In July

January 16, 2015

AVDMichigan governmental entities will face significant new regulations on how they charge for responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests beginning July 1, 2015.

New legislation approved during the Michigan Legislature’s final session day of 2014 will require public bodies to establish specific written procedures and guidelines for FOIA requests, including a separate written summary informing the public on how to submit FOIA requests, how to understand the public body’s responses to FOIA requests, deposit requirements, fee calculations, and avenues for challenging and appealing the public body’s denial of a request.  The governor signed the new legislation into law this week as PA 563 of 2014.

SDMIf a public body administers or maintains an internet presence, then it is required to post the procedures, guidelines, and written summary on its website. Public bodies are also required to provide free copies of the procedures, guidelines, and written summary upon request, and are required to include a free copy, or a website link to the policies, in all FOIA responses.

SREThe procedures and guidelines must include a standard form to detail the itemization of any fee the public body estimates or charges under FOIA. The itemization must clearly list and explain each of the six fee components authorized under the new legislation, which include several categories of labor costs associated with producing public records, whether in paper or electronic form; costs of non-paper physical media used to produce public records (e.g., DVDs, flash drives); copying costs; and postage costs. 

The new legislation also:

This publication is intended only as a summary of the pertinent provisions of the new legislation. Governmental entities are encouraged to carefully review the requirements of the new legislation with their legal counsel.

Miller Canfield attorneys are happy to discuss these changes and the newly required procedures and guidelines as they apply to your governmental entity.

Amanda Van Dusen
Steven Mann
Scott Eldridge