As possible conflicts of interest continue to stack up in the Legislature, state Rep. Matthew Bierlein called for prioritizing needed transparency and accountability measures to deliver people a model of state government they can trust.
Recent reports have disclosed two different Democrat legislators may be involved in conflict of interests related to legislation that would strip local control and diminish local input by giving the unelected Michigan Public Services Commission control over siting for large-scale wind and solar projects. The legislation comes as Democrats seek to meet an aggressive and accelerated renewable energy timeline.
One legislator who has pushed for the plan and holds a prominent role on the committee it was referred to upon introduction is listed as the owner of a solar company. Another legislator helped introduce the plan just a week after his wife was listed on campaign finance records as the lobbyist assigned to an Illinois-based solar company recently signed as a client for a Lansing-based firm.
“People I talk with see these situations unfold and openly wonder whether state government is representing people in our communities or their own self-interests,” said Bierlein, of Vassar. “This doubt leads to distrust in government on top of Michigan’s already dismal ratings on government transparency and integrity.”
Earlier this month, House Republicans introduced a resolution calling for a special committee to investigate the House Appropriations Committee Chair’s ties to numerous clients that have benefitted from the state budget passed earlier this year. The resolution was referred to the House Government Operations Committee instead of being taken up on the House floor.
A ballot proposal approved convincingly by voters last November gave the Legislature until the end of this year to adopt disclosure plans for sources of income and liabilities to cut down on conflicts of interests. Michigan is currently one of two states in which legislators do not have to file public reports regarding their personal finances.
So far, bills that reflect the ballot proposal’s parameters have not reached the governor’s desk. Additionally, House Republicans introduced bills in March that would subject the offices of governor and lieutenant governor to the Freedom of Information Act while creating a new Legislative Open Records Act to provide for the public inspection of legislative records created after Jan. 1 of 2024. The plans have not been advanced by the Democrat-controlled House Ethics and Oversight Committee.
“We should not shy away from making government transparent and accountable to the people it represents,” Bierlein said. “If elected leaders and state officials continue to act like there’s something to hide and sit on badly needed ethics reforms, people throughout our state will take that at face value. These scandals continue to point out gaps in our laws. We must prioritize shoring them up.”
State Rep. Matthew Bierlein, of Vassar, today said many proposed initiatives within Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address will create further affordability concerns for people, instead of easing the stress on their budgets. Whitmer laid out plans for two years of free community college for all high school graduates, $1.4 billion in housing […]
State Rep. Matthew Bierlein today called for action in the coming year on legislative reforms he has sponsored to ensure government programs are efficient and transparent for both people who use them and taxpayers who help fund them. Michigan’s nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General today released its fifth and final audit of the state’s […]
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Matthew Bierlein (right), of Vassar, welcomed Millington Chief of Police Brian Cartner as his guest on Wednesday, Jan. 24 for this year’s State of the State Address at the state Capitol building in Lansing.
State Rep. Matthew Bierlein said answers are needed to address a recent report that the head of Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission may have worked to tailor individual districts to certain candidates, as well as another report that disclosed multiple members of the commission may be living out of state. According to the Detroit News […]