LANSING, Mich. (WZMQ) – Legislators are hearing testimony on bills that aim to create more financial transparency from state officials. The bill package is a bi-partisan effort that saw a hearing this morning in the Senate Oversight Committee. Fellow legislators and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson spoke about the bills, endorsing them but also calling for more legislation that would create even higher levels of accountability.
Last November, Michigan passed Proposal I, which called for legislation to require financial disclosure from state officials. This bill package was drafted to fill those requirements and start the process of creating more financial transparency legislation. This package includes 4 bills introduced by both democratic and republican senators.
U.P. Senator Ed McBroom is the sponsor for the last of the 4 bills. He said legislators have received criticism for a lack of movement to pass this legislation, and that it is due time transparency legislation is passed.
“I’ve been pushing for months, but I’m in the minority right now. And so, you know, working with the majority to get my ideas, as part of these bills meant also waiting until they were ready to introduce them.” Senator McBroom said. “The bills themselves really focus in on the requirements of the constitutional amendment, that we disclose potential conflicts of other bodies or entities that we participate with. That way when issues come forward. It’s very clear to the voters, it’s clear to the press and all of our colleagues, what potential conflicts you have on this vote.”
The bill package would require elected state officials and candidates to file financial disclosure reports annually. Fellow sponsor democrat Senator Jeremy Moss said Michigan is ranked last among U.S. States when it comes to accountability and transparency laws.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson spoke at this morning’s committee meeting, she said these bills are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the work that needs to be done.
Some legislators criticized the package, saying there’s a lot more that should be included. In particular, the inclusion of disclosure of spousal assets. But with the December 31st deadline set by Prop I approaching rapidly, Senator McBroom says it’s a priority to them to get a basic package passed that can then be amended and added on to.
“If legislation implementing the above provisions has not been enacted by December 31, 2023, any Michigan resident could sue the legislature and the governor in the Michigan Supreme Court to enforce those requirements.”
The bills still need to be voted out of the Senate Oversight Committee, that vote is expected to take place at next week’s meeting. The bills will then be sent to the full Senate and will then go through the same process in the House before they can be enacted.
If legislation implementing the above provisions has not been enacted by December 31, 2023, any Michigan resident could sue the legislature and the governor in the Michigan Supreme Court to enforce those requirements.