Bipartisan plan limits conflicts of interest and increases standards for ethical behavior
The Michigan House today approved a package of reforms to the state’s outdated ethics and transparency laws. The bills are the product of two years of bipartisan conversations and negotiations at the state Capitol and months of work drafting and amending legislation led by lead bill sponsor Rep. Andrew Fink, of Adams Township, and Ethics Committee Chair Ann Bollin, of Brighton Township.
“The simple truth is people are losing faith in their government, and the problem gets a little worse every day,” said Wentworth. “We need to listen to what the people are telling us and start fixing the broken culture in the halls of government. This package of bills addresses some of the biggest concerns people have shared with me and gives all of us more peace of mind that our public servants are truly working for us.”
The House had already passed an expansion of the Freedom of Information Act and reformed the controversial ‘lame duck’ legislative session. Other ethics reforms passed today, including the following:
- New penalties for illegal gifts
- Lobbying disclosures
- Raising ethical standards for legislators and lobbyists, including on conflicts of interest
- New penalties for legislators who fail to show up for the job or act unethically
- Financial disclosures for lawmakers and state officers
- Closing the “revolving door” for legislators and heads of departments
- Permanent, equally bipartisan ethics committees in the Legislature to investigate public complaints and ensure compliance.
Each of the bills passed the House with bipartisan majorities and will now move to the state Senate for consideration.
Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth today called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to remove Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Liza Estlund Olson and give the beleaguered agency new leadership and a new direction. Director Estlund Olson took over after the previous director resigned amid criticism and failure.
State legislators from the Michigan House of Representatives invited first responders and military veterans and active duty servicemembers from their local communities to attend the event commemorating the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 and honoring the first responders and members of the military who fell in the line of duty during the past year.