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2015 Freedom of Information Act Compliance

Michigan's Freedom of Information Act 

The Michigan Freedom of Information Act gives the public the right to request to inspect and receive copies of public records, and to subscribe to regular issuances of public records. Recent amendments to the FOIA took effect July 1, 2015.

Michigan Freedom of Information Act  Public Act 442 of 1976, MCL 15.231,et seq.

Freedom of Information Act Update

Now that the 2015 Freedom of Information Act amendments have taken effect, here are some notes and updates to assist in compliance. 

  • Does a township have to provide its FOIA Procedures and Guidelines and Written Public FOIA Summary in its response to every FOIA request?

Yes, they do have to be provided, but Section 4 of the FOIA does allow the following: "A public body that posts and maintains procedures and guidelines and its written public summary on its website may include the website link to the documents in lieu of providing paper copies in its response to a written request." (MCL 15.234(4))

  • Sample Public Inspection of Records Policies from both the State Tax Commission and MTA are now available on the MTA website with the MTA’s FOIA samples. MTA’s FOIA Procedures and Guidelines do include a provision for public inspection of records, but to ensure coordination with other state requirements for public inspection policies, including the STC’s minimum assessing requirements, townships are encouraged to combine or cross-reference their public inspection and FOIA policies.
  • Per township request, MTA has now added each of the samples in the set of Optional FOIA Request Forms to the website as an individual form, to make it easier for a township to use or post to its website only those forms it chooses to use. 
  • The Enhanced Access to Public Records Actprovides exceptions to the FOIA fee limits for providing:
    • Enhanced access (immediate availability for public inspection, purchase, or copying by digital means) to public records, or
    • Access to a geographical information system (GIS), or the output from a GIS.

Examples include when a township purchases equipment, software or a service that will allow the public to instantly access the township’s ordinances or the assessing or tax records from the township’s website, or to download GIS maps or use an interactive GIS map online.

A township may charge a reasonable fee, even if it is higher than what FOIA would allow, that is “calculated to enable the public body to recover over time only those operating expenses directly related to the public body's provision of enhanced access.”

MTA Sample Forms for 2015 Amendments to FOIA:

Every township needs to adopt a version of three things:

  1. The township's FOIA Procedures and Guidelines (include a public inspection of records policy)
  2. A Written Public Summary (of the Procedures and Guidelines)
  3. A Detailed FOIA Cost Itemized Worksheet

The following samples will comply. You may also choose to use the MTA FOIA Request Forms. All our samples are included in both Word file and PDF formats. And the annotated version of the FOIA itself is included as a resource.

Note: One question that came up frequently during the recent FOIA sessions at the On the Road Meetings was whether a township's 1) FOIA Procedures and Guidelines and 2) Written Public FOIA Summary need to be supplied with every FOIA request. They do, but Section 4 of the FOIA allows the following: "A public body that posts and maintains procedures and guidelines and its written public summary on its website may include the website link to the documents in lieu of providing paper copies in its response to a written request." (MCL 15.234(4))

1) The township's FOIA Procedures and Guidelines--include a public inspection of records policy (required)

MTA Sample Township FOIA Procedures and Guidelines (Word)

MTA Sample Township FOIA Procedures and Guidelines (PDF)

MTA Sample Public Inspection of Records Policy (Word) Incorporate this policy in your Procedures and Guidelines and Public Summary. Also complies with AMAR requirement.

MTA Sample Public Inspection of Records Policy (PDF) Incorporate this policy in your Procedures and Guidelines and Public Summary. Also complies with AMAR requirement.

STC Sample Public Inspection of Records Policy (PDF) The State Tax Commission's sample

2) A Written Public Summary of the Procedures and Guidelines (required)

MTA Sample Public Summary (Word) Amended 4/27/15 to add on Page 6: "The Township Board is not considered to have received a written appeal until the first regularly scheduled Township Board meeting following submission of the written appeal."

MTA Sample Public Summary (PDF) Amended 4/27/15 to add on Page 6: "The Township Board is not considered to have received a written appeal until the first regularly scheduled Township Board meeting following submission of the written appeal."

3) A Detailed FOIA Cost Itemization Form (required)

MTA Sample FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization Form (Word)

MTA Sample FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization Form (PDF)

4) Optional FOIA Request Forms

MTA Sample FOIA Request Forms Set (Word) rev. Aug. 2015

MTA Sample FOIA Request Forms Set (PDF) rev. Aug. 2015

Individual FOIA Request Forms (Word)--So a township can adapt only those forms it wants to use:

5) The newly amended FOIA language

MTA Annotated Version of the 2015 Amended FOIA (PDF) For easier reference to the amended Act

County Versions

MTA County Sample Township FOIA Procedures and Guidelines (Word)

MTA County Sample Township FOIA Procedures and Guidelines (PDF)

MTA County Sample Public Summary (Word) Amended 4/27/15 to add on Page 6: "The County Board of Commissioners is not considered to have received a written appeal until the first regularly scheduled County Commission meeting following submission of the written appeal."

MTA County Sample Public Summary (PDF) Amended 4/27/15 to add on Page 6: "The County Board of Commissioners is not considered to have received a written appeal until the first regularly scheduled County Commission meeting following submission of the written appeal."

MTA County Sample FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization Form (Word)

MTA County Sample FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization Form (PDF)

MTA County Sample FOIA Request Forms Set (Word)  rev. Aug. 2015

MTA County Sample FOIA Request Forms Set (PDF)  rev. Aug. 2015

This page last updated on 10/12/2015.

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