Whitmer signs new transparency laws for elected officials

By Michigan Advance

December 11, 2023

BY KYLE DAVIDSON, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday signed off on a package of bills to implement the financial disclosure requirements of Proposal 1, which was approved by voters in 2022.

In addition to altering term limits, the amendment to the state Constitution also ordered lawmakers to pass legislation requiring annual financial disclosure reports from state officials and candidates for office.

The bills signed by the governor—Senate Bills 613 through 616—would have members of the Michigan House and Senate, the Attorney General, Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and candidates for any of those offices disclose assets, income, and properties valued over $1,000 alongside liabilities of $10,000 or greater.

They would also be required to disclose the name and occupation of their spouse, their spouse’s employer, and whether their spouse was registered as a lobbyist agent during the reporting period. The report must also include any stocks, bonds, or other securities valued at $1,000 held by the individual filing or held jointly with their spouse, with some limited exceptions.

“State government must be open, transparent, and accountable to the people it serves,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Since taking office, we’ve taken action to improve transparency and accessibility for Michiganders, and I’m proud to sign this good government legislation that implements Proposal 1 into law.”

The bipartisan package of bills received praise and criticism on both sides of the aisle, with some lawmakers calling out gaps in the bills, notably the lack of financial disclosure for spouses.

Common Cause Michigan, a nonprofit promoting open, honest, and accountable government issued a statement following the signing of the bills.

“We’re pleased to see Governor Whitmer sign this long overdue ethics reform into law—but ultimately, the law falls short of voters’ expectations. Despite overwhelming, bipartisan support for greater transparency from our elected officials, lawmakers weakened the law to shield themselves from public scrutiny,” said Quentin Turner, executive director of Common Cause Michigan.

“The people of Michigan asked for full transparency, and this legislation does not go far enough. There are still too many loopholes in the disclosure process. We deserve to know about the financial incentives of our elected officials and how that might influence the people’s business,” Turner said.

READ MORE: Michigan Senate makes progress on transparency reforms for elected officials

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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