Legislation enacts Proposal 1 of 2022, spirit of prior legislation to improve government transparency
LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 1, 2023) — Today, bipartisan financial disclosure bills (Senate Bills 613–616) passed the Senate nearly unanimously and are now one step closer to helping improve government transparency and codify Proposal 1 of 2022 — which was supported by 2.8 million Michigan voters just last year. After years of effort inside the Capitol and out, the Legislature is poised to finally bring Michigan in line with the other 48 states that implement this type of disclosure.
The package of bills, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), Sen. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), Sen. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker), and Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Twp.), would improve government transparency by requiring financial disclosure of assets and income above certain thresholds from elected officials and candidates for public office. The bills also will require candidates and officeholders to disclose their spouse’s employment, including their status as a registered lobbyist. Together, these four bills demonstrate the strong bipartisan leadership focused on this effort and commitment to making much-needed progress on this issue.
“This move towards transparency is a significant achievement in our ongoing efforts to make legislators accountable to the public,” said Sen. Moss, a longstanding champion for government transparency and chair of the Senate Elections and Ethics Committee. “Prop. 1 isn’t the end; it’s the start of much-needed transparency laws in Michigan. It reflects our years-long goal of enacting Michigan’s first financial disclosure law — revealing conflicts of interest among lawmakers.”
Per Proposal 1 of 2022, and going beyond it, the legislation passed today would ensure that starting next year on April 15th, each lawmaker must disclose:
- Every source of income;
- Assets held for investment or production of income;
- Significant liabilities;
- Positions held in organizations;
- Future employment agreements;
- Spouse’s occupation and more.
The Senate bills also extend this disclosure to candidates for office so that voters can vet these potential conflicts as they decide on who they want to represent them.
“As lawmakers, we must hold ourselves to a standard of accountability. Putting forth legislation that will require certain candidates for state elective office to file financial disclosure reports fully demonstrates our commitment to prioritizing transparency and restoring trust,” said Sen. Singh, Chair of the Senate Oversight Committee that previously reviewed and passed out the financial disclosure bills. “Legislation like this has the power to change the way people view state government and their elected state leaders — and we are moving in a new, positive direction.”
Currently, Michigan is one of only two states where lawmakers don’t have to file any type of public report about their personal finances. After extensive work by a bipartisan, bicameral, and stakeholder-informed workgroup, including working through the new language in our constitution, defining how the terms would be implemented, examining ways to build upon the ballot proposal, this bipartisan legislation successfully enacts Michigan’s first-ever financial disclosure law.
“The voters demanded transparency, and we happen to agree with them! Measures to shine light on the state legislature and those who serve here are long overdue,” said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “I am proud that we are taking this important first step — led by a bipartisan coalition — to establish personal finance disclosure rules for state representatives, senators, the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state in accordance with the ballot measure passed in 2022. When enacted, Michigan will finally be shedding the title of having worst-in-nation disclosure laws.”
This legislative package marks a significant milestone in the years-long struggle for increased transparency within Michigan’s government and among its elected officials. Importantly, it stands as an initial stride among potential future measures aimed at fostering even greater openness and accountability in the state’s governance.