Freedom of Information Act
The Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) has once again declared itself exempt from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The SILC is a governor-appointed independent agency and a public body funded 100% with taxpayer dollars. The SILC is refusing to respond to any FOIA requests until the Michigan Attorney General issues an opinion forcing them to comply with the law.
The SILC claims that it is exempt from FOIA as both a corporate entity and part of the Governor’s staff. Neither of these two statements are true. The SILC is unequivocally a public body in the most literal sense. In addition to state law and federal requirements, this directly violates the Governor’s Executive Directive on Transparency in State Government.
Open Meetings Act and Federal Standards and Assurances
The SILC has closed all State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) development meetings to the public in violation of federal Standards and Assurances and the Open Meetings Act (OMA). Development of the SPIL is an “exercise in governmental authority that effectuates public policy” and therefore subject to the requirements of the OMA. The federal Standards and Assurances for SILCs also require SPIL development meetings to be open to the public:
Indicator (4): The SILC receives public input into the development of the State Plan for Independent Living in accordance with 45 CFR 1329.17(f) ensuring all meetings regarding State Plan development and review are open to the public and provide advance notice of such meetings in accordance with existing State and federal laws and 45 CFR 1329.17(f)(2)(i)-(ii)”.
You can contact the Michigan Governor and Attorney General’s offices by using this quick link. A copy will also be sent to the federal Administration for Community Living (ACL), which is supposed to be providing oversight to the SILC.
Here are some sample talking points. We encourage you to put these into your own words.
Be sure to include your name and address at the bottom, and please let us know if you get a response!
Sample Talking Points
Dear Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel,
The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) is a governmental entity and must comply with Michigan’s transparency laws.
The SILC is currently violating FOIA and the Open Meetings Act and refusing to comply until forced to do so by the Attorney General’s office.
The SILC is refusing to respond to FOIA requests and has closed all State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) development meetings to the public. In addition to state law and federal requirements, this directly violates the Governor’s Executive Directive on Transparency in State Government.
SPIL development is a critical exercise in governmental authority that effectuates public policy. These meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Act and are also required to be open to the public by federal standards and assurances.
Please inform the SILC that they must immediately come into compliance with FOIA and the Open Meetings Act.
Please act quickly to address this issue. Michiganders with disabilities are desperately in need of a functioning SILC that complies with all state and federal law.
Please direct me to the person within the Governor and Attorney General’s offices who is handling this issue.