LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan ranks dead last in the country on the issue of ethics and transparency in state government but there is a bipartisan effort underway to change that.
After former Rep. Todd Courser and Rep. Cindy Gamrat were removed from the Legislature for having an affair, government reformers hoped that the incident would be the catalyst to pass tougher ethics legislation.
It did not happen.
The reformers thought the same thing when ethical issues were raised concerning former speaker Lee Chatfield.
With former speaker Rick Johnson having just pleaded guilty to taking bribes, there’s now another movement to move the Great Lakes State out of last place in terms of ethics and transparency.
Democratic Sen. Jeremy Moss and GOP Sen. Ed McBroom are working on what they call a comprehensive package to hold lawmakers accountable for their actions, including beefing up the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Unfortunately, the efforts have consistently failed in the last 10 years or so.
“We’ve made slow and steady progress every single session, and we’re in the final act of this trying to get a product that has sign-off from both chambers,” Moss said. “You would assume that the Legislature already has an ethics committee. It does not. You would assume there is a House and Senate oversight committee. There is not.”
Reformers believe there are too many loopholes concerning campaign contributions and they want citizens to know who is giving money to their lawmakers.
Last November, voters approved Proposal One, creating early voting and other election changes and those will be rolled into the package as well.
Now with Democrats in control, the hopes are high that the bills will actually pass since they always failed when the Republicans were in control.
Look for this all-inclusive package to surface in late summer or early fall.