Michigan House passes more of sweeping ethics and transparency reform plan

The Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan.
The Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan.(Eric Fletcher/ WJRT)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 4:34 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Additional parts of a sweeping reform plan designed to clean up how Michigan lawmakers do business passed the State House on Wednesday.

The Republican-led Michigan House passed bipartisan bills to impose new penalties for illegal gifts, require lobbying disclosures, raise ethical standards for lawmakers or lobbyists, impose new penalties on absent lawmakers, require financial disclosures, slow the migration of lawmakers or top state officials into lobbying roles and set up ethics investigation committees.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth said the bills are designed to give Michiganders more peace of mind that their public servants truly are working in the best interest of the public.

“The simple truth is people are losing faith in their government, and the problem gets a little worse every day,” he said. “We need to listen to what the people are telling us and start fixing the broken culture in the halls of government.”

Republican State Rep. David Martin of Davison said Michigan is one of just 12 states with no waiting period before a retiring lawmaker can become a lobbyist. He is working on a provision requiring legislators and state department heads to wait two years after leaving state government before becoming lobbyists.

“The ethical standards in place right now invite skepticism and mistrust because they are disgracefully low,” Martin said. “I’m fighting to enact higher standards that will end the political games once and for all and make sure politicians who don’t act in the best interest of the public can be held accountable.”

The House already approved bills earlier this year to expand the Freedom of Information Act to lawmakers and the governor, along with major changes to how the Legislature will act during the Lame Duck session after elections on even-numbered years.

All of the bills now move to the Michigan Senate for consideration. If they pass there, they would move to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her consideration.

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