Bipartisan Lawmakers Increasing Transparency in Michigan
LANSING — Today, state Reps. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) and Mark Huizenga (R-Walker), joined by a group of bipartisan legislators, introduced a new legislative package to require members of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state government and candidates for these positions to publicly disclose their financial interests. The legislative package also extends the requirement to members of university boards and the State Board of Education as well as candidates for any of those positions.
“Elected officials have a responsibility to rebuild public trust, and that starts by being transparent about potential conflicts of interest,” LaGrand said. “The only way people can know for sure that we are truly working on their behalf is by increasing transparency in all areas. I have already voluntarily disclosed my financial interests because it is the right thing to do for Michigan.”
Currently, Michigan is ranked dead last in the nation in transparency by the Center for Public Integrity’s most recent study, due in part to its lack of some form of financial or potential conflict of interest disclosure. Michigan is also the only state in the union with a full-time Legislature that does not require its elected officials to disclose financial interests for the purpose of potential conflicts of interest screening. A recent PEW study indicated that that the majority of Americans believe that their elected officials are coming to work to enrich themselves.
“The disclosures required under this bill package are reasonable and substantive. They are not burdensome on the candidate or official and provide easy to understand information to the public. Elected officials should have nothing to hide from the people they serve,” Huizenga said. “Enacting, this plan will give residents more confidence that their government is acting in their best interest.”