Michigan House passes financial disclosure bill
Critics blast the timing and lack of teeth in the bills as lawmakers pass legislation in 3 weeks
Early Thursday morning, the Michigan House passed Senate bills 613 and 614, financial disclosure rules for officeholders and candidates. It took just three weeks — and a vote of 2.8 million Michiganders — for both houses of the Legislature to pass the bills.
The bills require annual financial disclosure filings from candidates and officeholders in the Legislature, for the governor and lieutenant governor, and for the attorney general and secretary of state.
Critics have questioned the timing and the content of the bills.
As a result of Proposal 1 of 2022, lawmakers are bound by the Michigan Constitution to enact a financial disclosure law by Dec. 31. But the Senate bills weren’t submitted until Oct. 24, only two months before a deadline set by 2.8 million voters.
The bills set a $2,000 maximum fine for knowing falsehoods, but only a maximum $1,000 fine for non-filers.
Read them for yourself:
Compared to the original Senate bills, spousal disclosures were strengthened in the House-passed bills. In the original, only the spouse’s name and occupation were required. In the bills passed by the House and Senate, the spouse’s name, employer, and employer’s address are required. If a spouse is a lobbyist, that must be disclosed.
But critics, including former State Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, said the legislation left too many loopholes. Officeholders or candidates could shift their assets to a spouse and avoid disclosure, LaGrand said, knowing that they’d get back half even in a divorce.
Senate Bill 613 passed in a 59-49 vote, with two lawmakers not voting. Senate Bill 614 passed by a slightly broader margin, 61-47, with two lawmakers not voting.
The bills must be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be enacted into law.
The Legislature is expected to adjourn for the year next Tuesday, with Thursday’s session the final one of 2023.
On Monday, State Reps. Kevin Coleman, D-Westland, and Lori Stone, D-Warren, will be sworn in as mayor of their respective cities. When they forfeit their posts, the Democrats will lose their House majority, and the House will be tied 54-54, with 108 members.
Under House rules, the speaker retains the gavel, unless the Legislature is split 55-55. House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, will retain his position in the current Legislature.
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.