Significant revisions to Michigan's FOIA go into effect today - WNEM TV 5

Significant revisions to Michigan's FOIA go into effect today

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If there's something you want to know and it's considered public record, getting the information is now easier and cheaper than ever.

Significant revisions to Michigan's Freedom of Information Act went into full effect today.

Sherry Smith is trying to get records from the Goodrich School district. She was outraged when she was told the district was going to charge her more than $77,000 to get emails related to her son who has special needs.

"It's just disgusting that they would ask that from parents," Smith said.

Under the new law, people requesting public records can sue if they feel the fees are extreme.

The Smiths, have already hired an attorney.

The new FOIA law also increases punitive damages from $500 to $2,000 on public bodies that refuse or delay the release of public records.

It also requires courts to fine bodies up to $7,000 for not following the law.

The letter the Smiths received from the Goodrich School district states someone would need to be hired to search for the emails she wants, estimating it would take more than 4,000 hours, or nearly a year and a half.

Under the new FOIA guidelines, agencies must charge the lowest rate of the person able to do the search.

The new law states agencies are not allowed to charge more than 10 cents per page for copies of public records.

Smith said her attorney has already re-filed her FOIA request.

The new guidelines require a response in five days or less.         

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