State resolution would make university boards subject to Open Meetings Act

Sunshine Week

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Oversight Committee on Tuesday heard testimony on a proposal that would require all meetings of public university governing boards to be open to the public under the Open Meetings Act.

Currently, such boards are only required to open self-determined formal sessions.

If Senate Joint Resolution E is approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Legislature, the question would be presented to Michigan voters at the next general election for approval to amend Article 8, Section 4 of the Michigan Constitution.

“Increasingly, university boards are conducting business, and making financial and other serious decisions, behind closed doors during so-called informal sessions,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, who is chairman of the committee and sponsored the resolution. “As public bodies, many of whom are elected, these boards, which receive and spend taxpayers’ dollars, should be required to comply with Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

“This resolution would increase transparency and accountability so students, parents and taxpayers can see decisions being made by those running these public institutions. These are the same principles our schools, towns, community colleges and the Legislature operate under.”

The committee hearing happened to coincide with Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote more transparency in government.

“I strongly support Sunshine Week and government accountability,” McBroom said. “The more we can make government transparent, the more accountable it will be to the people, and that can help foster a more trusting relationship, which is sorely needed.”

The committee is expected to vote on Senate Joint Resolution E in the coming weeks, McBroom said.