State Rep. Timmy Beson this week opposed financial disclosure plans in the Legislature, saying they don’t go far enough to deliver badly needed transparency and meet expectations of the people.
Senate Bills 613-616 install some disclosure requirements for Michigan’s state-level elected officials. But the requirements are thin – barely meeting the minimum standard for disclosures as written in the state constitution and only requiring disclosure of gifts and trips reported by lobbyists instead of all trips.
“Our goal should not be to slightly elevate Michigan’s horrible record for government transparency. It should be positioning our state as a leader,” said Beson, of Bay City. “We should aim higher, especially with bipartisan support to do something. We had all year to listen to calls for greater government transparency and act. But these bills were rammed through late at night on likely one of the last session days of the year and seemed like something the majority just wanted to get off their plate because it was mandated.
“I don’t believe these bills were thorough enough. As we move forward, I will continue to support other transparency measures that have been in the Legislature to get us to where we need to be.”
In November of 2022, Michigan voters approved ballot Proposal 1, a proposal to require Michigan’s legislators, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general to file annual public financial disclosure reports after 2023. Specifically, the proposal requires disclosure of assets, liabilities, income sources, future employment agreements, gifts, travel reimbursements and positions held in organizations except religious, social and political organizations.
“The plans fell short of what voters clearly demanded,” Beson said. “We should strive to achieve transparency for the people we represent.”
Once approved, the bills will head to the governor for consideration and a potential signature.
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