The Michigan House of Representatives today approved state Rep. Mark Tisdel’s bipartisan plan to require high-level state executive officials to disclose their financial resources.
Tisdel’s House Bill 4685 is one piece of a broad, bipartisan ethics reform plan to strengthen requirements for transparency and accountability for government officials.
“When Michigan’s top officials make decisions that impact our entire state, their judgment must not be skewed by financial conflicts of interest,” said Tisdel, of Rochester Hills. “Without transparency, conflict-of-interest requirements are all bark and no bite. Financial disclosure will put teeth into existing ethics reforms, while other bipartisan reforms will strengthen accountability further.”
HB 4685 would require state officers to file an annual financial disclosure report with the State Board of Ethics. This requirement would apply to the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, superintendent, liquor control commissioners, civil service commissioners, education board members and university board members.
The disclosure report would be required to include the official’s full name, mailing address and position. The plan would require reporting of various financial resources of certain minimum values for officials and their spouses and dependents, such as sources of income, parcels of property, stocks and other securities and paid lobbying activities. An official would be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply with the disclosure requirements.
The State Board of Ethics would be able to review financial reports to ensure compliance with all relevant ethics and conflict of interest laws. While the financial reports would be confidential during a state official’s tenure, reports for former officials would be available to members of the public within 10 days upon request.
In addition to Tisdel’s bill for executive branch financial disclosure, other components of the ethics plan would subject legislators to similar financial disclosure requirements, establish a two-year waiting period before former legislators and department directors can become lobbyists, prohibit current legislators lobbying in other states, expand reporting requirements for lobbyists and create bipartisan ethics committees in the Legislature to enforce ethical protocols.
The plan passed the House with bipartisan support and now advances to the Senate for consideration.
A detailed summary of the ethics proposals approved by the House can be read here.