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Mackinac Center for Public Policy
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2013 House Bill 4001: Cap FOIA charges and increase government FOIA scofflaw penalties
  1. Introduced by Rep. Mike Shirkey (R) on January 9, 2013, to cap at 10-cents per copy the charge imposed by a government entity for documents provided under a state Freedom of Information Act request, and require that they permit and not charge a fee for a FOIA requestor’s making copies with his or her own equipment during an on-site records inspection authorized by this law. Also, to reduce the amount charged by a government entity for FOIA-related administrative and copying costs by 20 percent for each day its response exceeds the five-day statutory deadline (plus allowable extensions), and increase the punitive awards to a person who successfully challenges an improper FOIA denial from $500 to $5,000, plus actual or compensatory damages.
    • Referred to the House Oversight, Reform, and Ethics Committee on January 9, 2013.
      • Reported in the House on November 13, 2013, with the recommendation that the substitute (H-4) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
    • Substitute offered in the House on March 19, 2014, to replace the previous version of the bill with one that revises details only. The substitute failed by voice vote in the House on March 19, 2014.
    • Substitute offered by Rep. Mike Shirkey (R) on March 19, 2014, to replace the previous version of the bill with one that greatly expands the scope. The substitute passed by voice vote in the House on March 19, 2014.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. Mike Shirkey (R) on March 19, 2014, to exempt local governments that do not have the technological capability from a provision related to meeting records requests by email or electronic media. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on March 19, 2014.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. Ellen Lipton (D) on March 19, 2014, to waive the fee for filing records requests made by an elected official. The amendment failed by voice vote in the House on March 19, 2014.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. Mike Shirkey (R) on March 20, 2014. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on March 20, 2014.
  2. Passed 102 to 8 in the House on March 20, 2014, To establish statewide standards for the costs a government body may charge to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act open records request. Among other things the bill would prohibit charging more than the wages (not including benefits) of the lowest paid employee capable of meeting the request (or of deleting information exempt from disclosure), whether or not that person does the actual work. If the exempt information deletion work were done by a contract employee, the charge for the person’s time could not be greater than six times the state minimum wage. “Overhead” or overtime costs could not be included in the charges.
    The charge for standard size copies could not exceed 10 cents per page, periodically adjusted for inflation, and the amount charged for the person making the copies (paper or electronic) could not exceed three times the state minimum wage. A government body could choose to provide bulky information in electronic format (on CD), and if the requested information is on its website could just reference this in its reply. FOIA requestors would have to be given an itemized list of the costs, and a government body's procedures, guidelines and fees would have to be posted on its website (if it has one). The penalty for wrongfully denying a request would increase from $500 to $2,000 (and up to $7,500 if this is “willful and intentional”), and $1,000 for charging excessive fees (as determined by a judicial appeal process the bill would authorize)..
    Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

  3. Received in the Senate on March 25, 2014.
    • Referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee on March 25, 2014.

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