FOIA Amendments

March 18th, 2019

The Michigan Legislature recently amended Sections 3 and 4 of FOIA, requiring additional infor­mation from requesters and providing a deadline for deposit fees. FOIA requests now must contain the requester’s:

  • full name,
  • mailing address,
  • phone number or email address.

A FOIA request made by an organization must include contact information for an individual agent, in­cluding the information listed above. Only people who qualify as indigent under FOIA are exempt from the new requirement. Anonymous FOIA requests or those only with a first name are no longer valid.

A school may charge a deposit equal to half of the estimated fees to process the request if the estimate ex­ceeds $50 and the school’s FOIA procedures, guidelines, and fees are posted on the school’s website. If the re­quester failed to complete payment for a different FOIA request made within the last year, the school also can require a requester to provide a deposit equal to the entire fee estimate

Schools may now impose a 48-day deadline to pay the deposit. The deadline begins when the school pro­vides a written notification of the deposit requirement to the requester. Unless the requester appeals the de­posit amount, the failure to appeal or pay the deposit by the deadline renders the FOIA request abandoned and the school is not required to fulfill the request. Schools must, however, provide the deadline within the written notification. If notice of the 48-day deadline is not provided, it will not apply. School officials should enforce the additional information requirements when responding to a FOIA request. Further, schools should review their FOIA pol­icy’s language on deposits. Given schools’ new discre­tion concerning deposits, it may be worth altering your FOIA policy.