LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jim Runestad announced during Sunshine Week a series of bills he is introducing to increase trust and transparency in Michigan government.
“I am proud to announce the creation of this legislation during Sunshine Week, which is observed March 12 through 18 this year and continues to call attention to the importance of integrity and openness in government,” said Runestad, R-White Lake.
Senate Bill 222 would require “cooling-off” periods for lawmakers who wish to become lobbyists after serving their terms in the Legislature: Three years for former committee chairs and two years for all other former members.
“Most states require this kind of cooling-off period and Michigan should join them,” Runestad said. “For far too long, there has been a revolving door of Michigan legislators who go from serving one day to lobbying the next. This common practice is ethically concerning. Mandatory cooling-off periods would minimize conflicts of interest and promote integrity.”
SB 221 would prohibit the spouses of currently serving legislators from being employed as a lobbyist or lobbyist agent.
Additionally, SBs 223 and 224 seek to increase public access to communications and documents from all state offices by expanding Freedom of Information Act and Legislative Open Records Act provisions regarding the governor, lieutenant governor, their staffs, and the Legislature.
“Michigan continues to be rated among the least transparent states in the entire country,” Runestad said. “Our government must be open and accessible to Michiganders who provide their hard-earned tax dollars for its operation. It’s beyond time for us to make better strides toward more transparency. I will continue to advocate for openness and accountability wherever I see a place in which we could do better.”
In February, Runestad introduced SB 53, following the death of 5-year-old Ethan Belcher and the arrest of his parents, in order to give members of the Legislature and professional news organizations access to limited Child Protective Services case information under certain circumstances. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Oversight for further consideration and has not yet been given a hearing.