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In October, you addressed 10 common myths of the Freedom of Information Act. How will the recent amendments to FOIA impact my township?

The good news is that the advice provided in the October E-Letter is not altered by the recent legislative amendments. You can read those 10 common myths here.

The recent legislative amendments, however, primarily impact townships with respect to recovering costs for responding to FOIA requests, increased fines for failing to follow FOIA, and requirements to provide procedures to submit FOIA requests. Once the amendments are enacted by the Michigan Governor, the amendments are effective July 1, 2015. The key changes to consider are as follows:

  • Copying costs are limited to 10 cents per page for 8-1/2” by 11” paper and 8-1/2” by 14” paper;
  • Townships shall provide copies in the “most economical means” available, including double-sided copying;
  • Any records maintained on the township’s website are exempt from copying costs, unless the requestor agrees to receive a hard-copy;
  • Fines for not complying with FOIA have been increased;
  • Total labor costs for contracted service (i.e., attorneys) for time spent reviewing and redacting records shall not exceed six times the Michigan minimum hourly-wage rate;
  • Failure to meet the statutory deadlines to produce the requested documents will reduce the fees by 5% each day for a maximum of a 50% reduction.
  • If an individual requesting documents previously failed to pick-up documents or pay the costs charged, the township may require a deposit of 100% of the estimated fee for later requests before starting the search for records.
  • Townships must have established procedures available to the public on how to request records, how to understand the township’s responses to a request, deposit requirements, fee calculations and how to appeal a denial or fee calculation. This applies whether the township maintains a website or not.
  • >Townships maintaining a website must have available the above identified procedures on their website.

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