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Legislation Seeks to Strengthen Open Meetings Act

Oct 05, 2018

Representative Martin Howrylak (R-Troy) introduced legislation creating additional Open Meetings Act parameters. The bill provides for injunctive relief if a public body is not in compliance with the Open Meetings Act. Under the proposal, an individual who brings forth a civil action due to an alleged lack of compliance would be awarded court costs and attorney fees if a court deems there was an Open Meetings Act violation. The bill has been referred to the House Law and Justice Committee for consideration.

The legislation is in response to a case in 2014 where a citizen sued a Township Board of Trustees under the Open Meetings Act and was awarded the recovery of attorney fees. However, upon appeal the Michigan Supreme Court argued the plain language in the Open Meetings Act indicated that a person may not recover court costs or attorney fees unless he or she succeeds in obtaining injunctive relief.

Enacted in 1977, the Open Meetings Act holds that meetings of a public body must be open to the public and closed-door meetings can only occur under limited exemptions.

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