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Runestad, Johnson introduce bills to expand FOIA, Open Meetings Act to Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Zoo

LANSING, Mich. — State Sens. Jim Runestad, and Ruth Johnson on Tuesday introduced legislation intended to require the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and Detroit Zoo to comply with Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act and Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

“With public funding, comes public accountability,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Voters in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties contribute millions to the DIA and Detroit Zoological Society annually through their property taxes, making up a significant portion of the operating budgets for these institutions. It’s incumbent upon the Legislature to require that decisions made on taxpayer dollars are done in the open.”

Senate Bill 818, sponsored by Runestad, would expand the Open Meetings Act to include art institutions that receive tax dollars. Senate Bill 819, sponsored by Johnson, would make tax funded art institutions subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“The DIA and the Detroit Zoo have an obligation to be transparent with taxpayers about how their money is being spent,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “Our bills would apply the same laws that other public bodies already follow and would make available for public review their financial dealings including contracts, loan agreements, staff reimbursements and travel expenditures.”

SBs 818 and 819 have been referred to the Senate Oversight Committee for further consideration.