Editorial: Amendment to FOIA good step for Michigan

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”

~Steve Martin

It is only fitting that since this week has been Sunshine Week in Michigan – a time to celebrate transparency in government, that Michigan House members would approve Thursday amendments to the state Freedom of Information Act.

The amendments are important improvements to the act, which will allow for citizens to have even quicker access, at a fair price, to the information they are seeking. Among the representatives voting in favor of the change was Rep. Peter Pettalia of Presque Isle.

Highlights of the bill include:

* Limiting the cost to copy pages to 10 cents per page, and the labor fee be the lowest paid employee in the department.

* Public bodies have clear procedures in place for citizens to obtain who want copies of information.

* For every day a delay occurs in obtaining information, the body would reduce the cost of the copies by 10 percent – up to 50 percent.

The sponsor of the bill – State Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake -along with Rep. Tom McMillen, R-Rochester, were honored this week with the “Sunshine Award” from the Michigan Press Association for their efforts in making government more transparent for the people.

“These gentlemen understand that government of the people, by the people and for the people doesn’t work unless taxpayers have unfettered access to information compiled by the government,” MPA Executive Director Mike MacLaren said.

Transparency in government is something we all benefit from. Special thanks to Rep. Pettalia for voting to make transparency even more accessible for everyone.