LANSING — State Reps. John Cherry (D-Flint) and Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) introduced a package of bills this week to bolster accountability and transparency in state governance. Rep. Cherry’s House Bill 4177 would create the Office of Government Accountability, which would be tasked with investigating complaints of criminal behavior, gross mismanagement and actions taken by government officials that create a specific threat to public health or safety. The office would also be authorized to report its findings with recommendations or referrals for prosecution.

“Our communities deserve to know how their government operates, how their tax dollars are spent and whether their officials are acting in their best interests,” said Rep. Cherry. “Too many families have suffered over the past eight years because of the lack of accountability framework within our government. Mismanagement at multiple levels went unchecked for far too long, and it left people unsure whether their state government cared about the challenges they faced every day. This legislation outlines a few basic steps we can take to pull back the curtain and begin rebuilding the public’s fragile trust in our government institutions.”

Michigan has consistently ranked last in the nation in transparency and ethics as a growing number of water crises throughout the state have been revealed. Rep. Neeley’s House Bill 4178 would establish sentencing guidelines for violating the act, to ensure state government is held accountable to the people of Michigan.

“Any effort we make to increase transparency in government is only as good as the enforcement mechanisms we have to hold officials accountable,” said Rep. Neeley. “If Michiganders are to have a productive opportunity to generate economic and social vitality in their lives, then these bills are a vital part of ensuring that our government remains open and responsive to the people we represent when they need our help the most.