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Sunshine is for you — fight for it

Last week, The News highlighted a number of local government officials talking about their jobs, including their powers and the limits on their powers, as part of the newspaper’s annual celebration of Sunshine Week.

Started by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in 2002 and taken national the following year, Sunshine Week is a chance to celebrate government transparency laws and to advocate for improvements to those laws.

We hope our series this year was as informative to you as it was to us, but the work doesn’t stop there.

Michigan’s government transparency laws are important and allow access to the inner workings of the state’s halls of power that didn’t exist before those laws came on the books decades ago.

But work remains.

Michigan, for example, is one of only two states that shield state lawmakers and the governor from transparency requirements. And the current laws place too much burden on the public to prove they’re entitled to access something, instead of burdening the government to prove certain documents should be withheld from the public.

Newspapers may be among the loudest celebrating government transparency, but the laws exist not for us, but for you. It’s your government. Your tax dollars. You should have access.

So, please, don’t just push for more government openness on Sunshine Week, any more than you only show kindness at Christmastime. Call on your lawmakers. Tell them you demand change. Hold policymakers accountable come election season.

They will listen to you if you’re loud enough.

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