House Dems Continue Push For "Reform Government Now" Package

New report ranks Michigan 43rd, given "F" on Corruption Risk Report Card
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

LANSING - House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel (Mt. Morris Township) and the entire House Democratic Caucus again today called on Republican leaders in the House to move the “Reform Government Now” legislative package through the chamber in the wake of a recent report by State Integrity Investigation that ranked Michigan’s government 43rd in the country in terms of accountability and risk of corruption.

“The governor stated in his State of the State Address that the people deserve a more open and accountable government, and a month before that he talked about strengthening lobbying and campaign finance,” said Hammel. “We in the House Democratic Caucus fully agree and in response we, again, introduced a package of bills to address those concerns as we have in past sessions. It is my hope that our Republican colleagues across the aisle will see this report card and finally move the bills to give the residents of Michigan the open and transparent government they deserve.”

The report card gave Michigan a number of failing grades in areas like political financing, legislative accountability and lobbying disclosure among others areas. Several bills in the House Democrats’ “Reform Government Now” package would address these issues and bring our state in line with others and the federal government in terms of transparency and accountability.

“Though I hate to see our state painted in such a negative way, this will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to the majority that we need serious action in our Legislature to shine a light on any potentially unethical fundraising and lobbying practices occurring in our state,” said House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal (Battle Creek). “We have to once and for all eliminate ‘Pay to Play’ politics and ensure that elected officials are truly acting in the best interests of the people they represent. I hope the governor will help us in moving real reform into law.”

The “Reform Government Now” legislation was primarily introduced in the beginning of February and has sat in the House Redistricting and Elections Committee without a hearing since that time. The package would:

  • Create a two-year “cooling off” period for elected officials and a one year period for department directors who attempt to move directly into lobbying to close the revolving door between public and private work.
  • Require personal financial disclosure from appointed and elected officials. Michigan is one of only three states with no financial disclosure requirements.
  • Strengthen conflict of interest provisions for legislators, prohibit state elected officials from applying for or accepting state grants, and make it illegal for individuals to solicit or accept campaign contributions while in a state facility.
  • Toughen campaign finance disclosure and corporate accountability after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted limits on corporate spending in campaigns and prevent state contractors, companies that accept federal bail-out money, and foreign-controlled corporations from spending money in Michigan elections.
  • Increase transparency by forcing corporations making expenditures in campaigns or for lobbying purposes to comply with the law and publically disclose funders.
  • Require “robo-calls” to clearly state the name and address of the organization paying for them.