Temporary Extension to Michigan FOIA Responses Can Impact Licensing Matters

The Michigan Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) is a public policy that allows Michiganders access to information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them. To balance this priority with the restrictions created by the COVID-19 crisis, it is necessary to provide temporary extensions of certain FOIA deadlines, so that Michiganders may remain informed and involved during this unprecedented time without compromising the health and safety of this state and its residents.

Executive Order 2020-38, which is in effect through June 4, 2020 states the following:

  1. The public body continues to respond to requests for public records as expeditiously as possible.
  2. The public body responds in writing to a request or an appeal received at its physical office via mail, hand delivery, or facsimile within 10 business days after actual receipt of the request or appeal.
  3. If COVID-19 or any accompanying response efforts, interferes with the timely grant or denial of a request or the timely reversal or upholding of a denial on appeal, a public body may issue a notice extending the period of time in which to respond for as long as the public body deems necessary but no longer than until the expiration of this order or any order that follows from it.
  4. Compliance with the requirements relating to in-person efforts in connection with a public records request is temporarily suspended if a public records request requires in-person efforts, such as an in-person search, inspection, examination, preparation, or production of public records, by the requestor or the public body, a public body may defer that portion of the request until the expiration of this order or any order that follows from it.

For complete information on Executive Order 2020-38, please click here: https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-524359–,00.html

For licensed Michigan health care providers (such as physicians, dentists, pharmacists, podiatrist, chiropractors, nurses, and other such providers) with pending investigations by, or matters before, the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), obtaining a copy of his, her, or a related state investigation file may take a lot longer than expected due to this executive order. Strategically, such delay could impact the timing of an interview with a State investigator or the scheduling of a compliance conference with a LARA Analyst or State AAG.  Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this executive order or any licensing investigation or administrative complaint issued by LARA, please do not hesitate to contact Robert S. Iwrey, Esq. at riwrey@thehlp.com as a significant portion of his practice involves Michigan health care licensing matters.

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