Michigan lawmakers OK financial disclosure with ‘too many loopholes’



(The Center Square) – Michigan lawmakers passed financial disclosure requirements that Republicans and Democrats say aren’t strict enough.

The House passed Senate Bills 613, 614, 615, and 616 that seek to create financial disclosure requirements for state elected officials and candidates for those offices.

In 2022, voters mandated the disclosures that must be enacted by Dec. 31, or else a Michigander could sue the Legislature and the governor in the Michigan Supreme Court to enforce the provisions.

Rep. Jason Morgan, D-Ann Arbor, voted against the package because “Michiganders deserve even higher standards for their elected officials.”

“Lack of trust in government matters, and these bills could have done more to restore that trust. I will continue fighting for good government, now and always,” Morgan posted on social media.

House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, welcomed the bills.

“Tonight, the Michigan House delivered on our promise to put people first, choosing action over complacency,” Tate said in a statement. “We worked in a bipartisan fashion to bring transparency and accountability to our state government, reflecting the wishes of our constituents.”

Erin Byrnes, D-Dearborn, the House’s chair of the Ethics and Oversight Committee, voted against the financial disclosure bills. Byrnes proposed failed amendments to disclosure gifts and travel over $1,000 from non-lobbyists.

Voters wanted the disclosure of assets, liabilities, income sources, future employment agreements, gifts, travel reimbursements, and positions held in organizations except religious, social, and political organizations.

The bills would only require disclosure of gifts and trips reported by lobbyists instead of all trips and “leave too many loopholes” Rep. Brian BeGole, R-Antrim Township, said in a statement.

“Voters were overwhelmingly clear in what they expected from state government when they approved this proposal,” BeGole said. “We have also seen multiple potential conflicts of interest come up in the House over the past few months that showcase the need for greater disclosure and transparency. We shouldn’t settle when there is a bipartisan appetite to go after this issue and we have a mandate from voters. We should make Michigan a leader on government transparency, and these bills don’t get us there.”

This year, multiple lawmakers have been accused of conflicts of interest, including House Appropriations Chair Angela Witwer, D-Delta Twp regarding the record $82 billion budget, while Reps. Joey Andrews, D-St. Joseph and Phil Skagg, D-East Grand Rapids, could benefit from recently passed renewable energy legislation.

The bills will head to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.



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