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Michigan financial disclosure bills go easy on non-filers

Filing an inaccurate disclosure would cost $1,000 under Michigan bills; not filing at all would cost half that

Financial disclosure bills introduced in the Michigan Senate Tuesday would charge only a $1,000 maximum penalty to lawmakers whose financial disclosures are inaccurate. Elected officials who didn’t file a disclosure at all would only have to pay half that, a maximum of $500.

State lawmakers are oblilgated to pass a financial disclosure law by a Dec. 1 deadline set by the Michigan Constitution.

The $1,000 penalty would apply to “an individual who knowingly files an incomplete or inaccurate report.”

Mere mistakes are much cheaper. Failure to file a disclosure carries a $25 per day penalty (after a 10-day grace period), with a maximum of $500.

That contrasts with the penalty scale in Congress, where the maximum financial penalty is a $50,000 fine. Prison sentences of up to five years are also possible.

The Michigan bills offer no such deterrent.

Senate bills 613 and 614 are tie-barred. That means both must be enacted into law for either to take effect. The bills have sponsors from both parties.

Read them for yourself: Senate Bill 613 and Senate Bill 614

The proposed legislation arrives in Lansing with little time for lawmakers to meet the Dec. 31 deadline set by Proposal 1 of 2022.

Senate Bill 613 would require lawmakers, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general and the secretary of state to file disclosures. The Michigan Department of State would investigate alleged violations, except those involving the secretary of state. Then the Michigan attorney general would investigate.

Any income source above $1,000 must be disclosed. The names of spouses and their career field —though not employer —must also be disclosed.

Debts above $10,000 must be disclosed.

Senate Bill 614 concerns candidates for office.

If the bills pass, the first disclosures are due to the Department of State on April 15, 2024, and on May 15 of every year that follows.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.