Michigan State Senator Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) on Tuesday introduced legislation to reform the state’s ethics requirements, aiming for greater transparency for lobbyists.
Under the new plan, lobbyists would face stronger financial reporting requirements, mandating that the individuals file reports monthly.
Furthermore, they would be forced to report more expenditures and contributions. For example, if fully enacted, lobbyists would disclose travel, lodging, and food costs, in addition to donations by associations or corporations to a public official.
“One of the unintended consequences of term limits is the fact lobbyists became significantly more powerful and money has been their primary weapon of influence,” said Bumstead. “By requiring lobbyists to report more information and submit their financial reports more often, we can make the Legislature more transparent and honest. This will help ensure elected officials conduct themselves in a manner that best serves the people of our great state.”
The bill would redefine a “gift” to include a “payment, advance, forbearance, or the rendering or deposit of money, services, or anything of value.”
The legislation also takes aim at the “revolving door.” Senate Bill 963 would prevent former lawmakers from becoming a lobbyist until two years after the individual leaves their office.
“Michigan residents expect elected officials to fairly represent the interests of their districts, but lobbyists can have a large impact on votes in both the House of Representatives and Senate,” Bumstead added. “This legislation is a commonsense reform that increases transparency to restore Michiganders’ confidence in the legislative process.”
The Senate’s Government Operations Committee will review the legislation and determine if it advances to a full vote on the floor of the legislative chamber. In addition to the Senate, the measure would require approval from the Michigan House and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jon Bumstead” by Jon Bumstead. Background Photo “Michigan State Capitol” by Brian Charles Watson. CC BY-SA 3.0.