Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, today continued her commitment to ethical and transparent state government by supporting a broad bipartisan reform package.
The measures approved by the House would create a permanent bipartisan ethics committee to police compliance with code of conduct and conflict of interest rules. Lawmakers and certain state officers would be required to file financial disclosure reports, and new restrictions and requirements would be put in place related to lobbying.
“In my two-and-a-half years as your state representative, I’ve worked hard to restore trust in government. These measures are a significant part of the effort to tear down barriers to open and honest representation and rebuild faith in the government you pay for and should be able to count on,” Glenn said. “Michigan has a poor track record when it comes to accountability and transparency in state government. You deserve better and implementing the reforms in this legislative package would help ensure you receive better.”
In a 2015 review by the Center for Public Integrity, Michigan ranked dead last in transparency and accountability laws. The legislation approved today – House Bills 4680-92 – addresses these shortfalls in a number of ways:
- New bipartisan ethics committees – Permanent House and Senate ethics committees with an equal party split and alternating co-chairs would enforce ethics and conflict of interest laws, issue advisory opinions, accept and investigate public complaints about legislator misconduct, and recommend disciplinary action. If wrongdoing is determined, then the committee’s records must be made public.
- Expanded penalties for legislative misconduct – The House and Senate would be authorized to suspend the salary and expense allowances of a legislator who acts unethically or is excessively absent by a supermajority vote.
- Requiring financial disclosures for state legislators – By requiring legislators to disclose their finances to a new oversight panel, conflicts of interest can be better regulated, and officials held accountable. To ensure the panel is doing its job, the disclosure forms will be made public once a legislator leaves office.
- Prohibiting legislative conflicts of interest – Lawmakers would be banned from voting for personal financial benefit.
- Closing the ‘revolving door’ – Legislators and department heads would be prohibited from becoming lobbyists for two years after the end of their term or tenure.
Glenn has a long track record of supporting reforms to make state government more open and accountable to the people of Michigan.
Her legislation to make the Legislature and governor’s office subject to freedom of information or “sunshine” laws has been approved by the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. So is her plan to establish an ombudsman’s office that whistleblowers could contact without repercussions or having their identities disclosed – an effort to help state employees raise concerns about possible problems in their departments.
Glenn also is working on several fronts to end “hush money” payouts to former government officials.