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PHOTO INFORMATION: Rep. Tom Kunse (at podium) speaks on new ethics and transparency legislation spearheaded by House Republicans on Tuesday, March 14. Kunse was joined by (from left) state Reps. Mike Harris (R-Waterford), Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland) and John Roth (R-Interlochen).

Rep. Kunse: Time is now to increase government transparency, strengthen ethical standards
RELEASE|March 15, 2023
Contact: Tom Kunse

State Rep. Tom Kunse this week introduced the House Republican plan that will improve Michigan’s lackluster standing on government transparency through comprehensive ethics and transparency reforms.

The plan follows through on a clear call for greater accountability and transparency in government that’s been sent by voters and residents throughout the state. The multi-bill package coincides with Sunshine Week – which runs from March 12-18 and promotes greater access to public information.

“Michigan continuously ranks among the worst states in the country when it comes to transparency in government,” said Kunse, of Clare, who serves as Republican Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ethics and Oversight. “It’s completely unacceptable, and it’s time for change. Therefore, my Republican colleagues and I introduced a measure to truly turn things around. Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 in our last election, demonstrating their clear desire for their public officials to increase transparency. We heard you loud and clear, and we are taking action.”

The bills continue efforts to expand the Freedom of Information (FOIA) Act to ensure the governor and legislators will no longer be exempt from Michigan’s sunshine laws. They also create constitutionally required financial disclosure forms for lawmakers, so conflicts of interest can be better regulated and officials can be held accountable to the people they serve.

The legislative package establishes better standards going forward by prohibiting legislators from voting when they or an immediate family member could personally benefit, creates a cooling off period that prohibits legislators and government department heads from becoming lobbyists for two years after the end of their term or tenure, and forms new bipartisan ethics committees.

The permanent panels – one in each chamber – will have an equal party split and alternating co-chairs to enforce ethics and conflict of interest laws, issue advisory opinions and recommend disciplinary action. In addition, the committees will be able to receive and investigate public complains about legislator misconduct – a critical component to ensuring state government is accountable to the people it represents.

The ethics and transparency legislation is contained within House Bills 4261-72. Kunse’s bill is HB 4262, which creates the Legislative Office Records Act, or LORA, putting much needed sunlight into spaces currently firmly in the dark.

“Gov. Whitmer ran her campaign on a promise to increase transparency in government,” Kunse said. “However, nothing has changed in her five years at the helm. Transparency is a cornerstone of democracy that Michigan as a state severely lags in compared to other states. We are done waiting – the time is now to deliver on the promises made to Michigan residents. House Republicans are paving a new path for a better Michigan.”

Rep. Tom Kunse is the Republican Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ethics and Oversight. Kunse represents the 100th House District, which includes Mecosta, Osceola, and parts of Lake and Clare counties.

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