State Rep. Jaime Greene celebrated Sunshine Week on Tuesday by co-sponsoring a comprehensive plan to make Michigan government more transparent and accountable to the people of the state.
The 12-bill government reform plan would extend state open records laws to the governor’s office and Legislature, require key state officials to disclose their finances, boost ethics requirements to prevent conflicts of interest, and prohibit lawmakers and other officials from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office.
“A government that operates in the dark is ripe for corruption and breeds mistrust,” said Greene, R-Richmond. “This plan requires our state government to follow the same standards of transparency and accountability that local government have been required to follow for decades. The people of Michigan have a right to know what is going into the decisions that are impacting their lives.”
The plan, contained in HBs 4261-4272, would provide greater transparency and firmer ethical standards by:
- Opening state records: Michigan is currently one of two states whose Freedom of Information Act does not allow citizens to obtain government records from the Legislature or Governor’s office. House Republicans’ plan would subject the governor, lieutenant governor, and legislators to open records requests.
- Disclosing officials’ finances: With two-thirds of voters in support, the people of Michigan overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to require the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and legislators to disclose their finances publicly. The new legislation would implement Proposal 1 and require state officials to file an annual report describing their assets and liabilities; sources of earned and unearned income; positions held in organizations other than religious, political, social, and fraternal entities; agreements for future employment, continued or deferred payments from past or current employers, and other employment arrangements; and gifts and travel payments from lobbyists.
- Eliminating conflicts of interest: The House Republican plan would expand current conflict of interest laws to prohibit a lawmaker from voting on any measure that would provide a substantial financial benefit particular to the legislator, an immediate family member, or a person or entity to whom the legislator owes a legal or financial obligation. Bipartisan ethics committees in the House and Senate would ensure legislators comply with the ethical requirements.
- Closing the revolving door: Former legislators and cabinet officials often take lobbying jobs soon after leaving office. In recent years, one legislator was lobbying in other states while still in office. The legislation would bar lawmakers from lobbying out of state. Departing legislators and state department heads would be prohibited from becoming lobbyists for at least two years.
Sunshine Week, observed each March, highlights the need for transparency and accountability at all levels of government. March 12-18 marks the occasion this year.
© 2009 - 2023 Michigan House Republicans. All Rights Reserved.