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Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Carra: Legislation would strengthen transparency for redistricting, citizens’ initiatives
RELEASE|December 14, 2021
Contact: Steve Carra

State Rep. Steve Carra of Three Rivers and the Michigan House of Representatives today approved two bills to provide greater transparency for key governmental processes.

Formed by a constitutional amendment in 2018, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is tasked with drawing new congressional and state legislative districts following the decennial census. The Michigan Constitution states, “The commission shall conduct all of its business at open meetings.” However, the commission recently decided to hold a closed session to review legal memoranda. The commission chair cited an exception allowed under the Open Meetings Act, which applies to most state and local governmental bodies. Senate Bill 728 would clarify that the Open Meetings Act does not supersede the commission’s constitutional requirement to conduct all business at open meetings.

“The redistricting commission was created to guarantee openness and transparency so the voters could observe the process, but it has neglected its core mission and violated its constitutional mandate,” Carra said. “Commissioners have manipulated a state law to claim cover from the Michigan Constitution. We must make it clear: The commission must adhere to the constitution and conduct all its business at open meetings.”

Michigan citizens may propose constitutional amendments or changes to state law by collecting a minimum number of signatures and filing them at the Department of State. House Bill 5252 would require the department to post online a summary of a newly filed petition, along with the date it was filed, within two business days. Every 30 days, the department would need to post an update on the petition’s status.

“When the people of Michigan sign a petition, they should be able to keep an eye on the secretary of state and see how long bureaucrats delay the constitutional process,” Carra said.

Carra said the secretary of state needlessly delayed review of signatures for the Unlock Michigan petition. The citizens’ initiative to repeal an unconstitutional emergency powers law was filed in October 2020, but the secretary of state did not complete review for six months. The Legislature passed the petition into law earlier this year.

HB 5252 now proceeds to the Senate for consideration, and SB 728 now goes to the governor.

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