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Politics & Government

Transparency bills could see movement in new state legislative term

picture of Michigan legislative chambers
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Democrats are trying to push a campaign finance reform measure in the State House.

The state Legislature could tackle a topic this term that it couldn’t get past the state Senate before. Some lawmakers – including new leaders – are making transparency a priority.

Last term, the state House unanimously voted to open the governor’s office and the Legislature up to Freedom of Information Act requests. But they ran into a major obstacle in the Senate.

Incoming Democratic Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) was a Representative last term.

“We need transparency advocates on the other end of the Capitol building, so we can finally get it done. So that we can stop consistently ranking last of all states in ethics and transparency and we can actually better serve the constituents,” says Moss.

This year, incoming Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), says the issue is still a priority,

“We need to ensure that the people we serve have access to what we’re doing here in our state. So I look forward to building that relationship and having that conversation and ensuring that we can get something done,” he says.

Chatfield might have an interested ear in the new Senate leadership.

Republican Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) is cautious about the changes – though not opposed to transparency. He says the devil is in the details.

“Because of technology and because of the way we communicate, differentiating between personal emails, and business emails, and legislative emails and text messages for that matter – those are the kinds of things we have to be very careful about,” says Shirkey.

Shirkey says he’s concerned about potentially revealing people’s personal information.

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