Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Schuette: Past Time For Sunshine In Michigan
RELEASE|March 14, 2023

State Rep. Bill G. Schuette today unveiled the House Republican plan that will improve Michigan’s lackluster standing on government transparency through comprehensive ethics and transparency reforms.

The plans follow through on a clear call for greater accountability and transparency in government that’s been sent by voters and residents throughout the state. The multi-bill package works in harmony with Sunshine Week – which runs from March 12-18 and promotes greater access to public information.

“Michigan has long been toward the bottom of national rankings for transparency in government. It’s unacceptable and it’s time we forgo this status quo,” said Schuette, of Midland. “These proposals are steps in the right direction. Voters approved Proposal 1 last year and sent a clear message that the people of this state demand greater transparency from their public officials.

“This is the fifth Sunshine Week of Governor Whitmer’s administration, but we’ve yet to see here act on any of her campaign promises. House Republicans are done waiting. We are leading the way to deliver this transparency. This is the right move for our state and people we all represent.”

The bills continue efforts to expand the Freedom of Information (FOIA) Act to ensure the governor and legislators will no longer be exempt from Michigan’s sunshine laws. They also create constitutionally required financial disclosure forms for lawmakers, so conflicts of interest can be better regulated and officials can be held accountable to the people they are working for.

The legislative package establishes better standards going forward by prohibiting legislators from voting when they or an immediate family member could personally benefit, creates a cooling off period that prohibits legislators and government department heads from becoming lobbyists for two years after the end of their term or tenure, and forms new bipartisan ethics committees.

The permanent panels – one in each chamber – will have an equal party split and alternating co-chairs to enforce ethics and conflict of interest laws, issue advisory opinions and recommend disciplinary action. In addition, the committees will be able to receive and investigate public complains about legislator misconduct – a critical component to ensuring state government is accountable to the people it represents.

The ethics and transparency legislation is contained within House Bills 4261-72. Schuette’s bill is HB 4261, which amends the state’s Freedom of Information Act to subject the governor and lieutenant governor and their employees to FOIA beginning Jan. 1, 2024. The proposals will be formally read into the record today. 

PHOTO INFORMATION: Rep. Bill G. Schuette (at podium) speaks on new ethics and transparency legislation spearheaded by House Republicans on Tuesday, March 14. Schuette was joined by (from left) state Reps. Mike Harris (R-Waterford), Tom Kunse (R-Clare) and John Roth (R-Interlochen).

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