House Votes to Open Legislative, Governor Records

Legislation expanding the Freedom of Information Act to mostly open up legislative and the governor’s documents passed the Michigan House of Representatives. The 10-bill package mostly ended the exemption the governor has always had from the Freedom of Information Act and created the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) that declares what records of the Legislature would become newly public and what would remain exempt.

In terms of the governor’s office, exemptions include materials regarding appointments until after the person was appointed, materials regarding the suspension or removal of a public officer until after the person was removed or suspended, pardons and commutations, budget recommendations, executive order budget cuts or special messages to the Legislature.

Under LORA, constituent communications are exempt along with personnel records that are personal in nature, such as human resources files; records relating to an ongoing internal or legislative investigation or litigation; advisory communications within the public body or between public bodies; trade, commercial or financial records provided confidentially to assist in public policy; communications regarding bill drafting; sergeant-at-arms security issues and auditor general records; and records exclusively maintained by legislative caucuses.

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