First came Sunshine Sunday, which began in 2002 in Florida when lawmakers were trying to weaken that state’s public records laws. Following three Sunshine Sundays that publicized the importance of open government, more than 300 proposed exemptions to public access were defeated.
After other states copied Florida’s example, the American Society of News Editors hosted a Freedom of Information Summit where the idea was born. The first Sunshine Week launched in 2005. It’s held each year to coincide with March 16, the birthdate of James Madison.
The week now has support that includes universities, libraries, elected officials and civic groups such as local League of Women Voters chapters.
In Michigan Sunshine Week is officially March 11-17 in 2018, although I picked March 16th for the single day post.
To learn more about open government efforts in Michigan, visit:
• Michigan Press Association: For a guide to using the state and federal Freedom of Information Acts and other information.
• Michigan Coalition for Open Government: A nonprofit group created to educate citizens about the importance of public access to government meetings and records. Membership is open to individuals, media and other organizations.
For the full and accompaning articles, see “Greater Lansing Outlook: Why does open government matter?”, Lansing State Journal, March 16, 2014.