Senate passes Shirkey transparency bill

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LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey that would increase transparency when state agencies seek federal and other types of funding for programs administered in Michigan.

Senate Bill 97 would require state agencies that apply for federal financial assistance or any other form of financial assistance to notify the Senate majority leader, the speaker of the House, the appropriations committee of each chamber, and both chambers’ fiscal agencies within 10 days of an application submission.

“I’m becoming increasingly frustrated that states are morphing into administrative arms of the federal government, which is being driven largely by a growing percentage of their funding being federal dollars,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “If we’re going to reverse that trend, we need to be aware of requests for federal money as they happen.”

When state agencies receive federal or other forms of financial assistance, often some type of state match is required. Examples include disaster assistance or, more recently, the waiver to extend Medicaid coverage in Flint.

SB 97 would bring an increased level of transparency to the actions so the Legislature is not blind-sided late in the appropriation process.

In addition to requiring notification within 10 days of the request, the measure would also require the agency to notify the same people within 10 days of receiving financial assistance, and it would require that the reporting notice include all stipulations and conditions associated with receiving the financial assistance.

SB 97 now heads to the Michigan House for further consideration.