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Proposed legislation would require financial disclosures from elected officials

Henryk Sadura Adobe Stock
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Some Michigan lawmakers are trying – once again – to pass legislation that would require elected officials to file financial disclosures. It’s an issue that lawmakers have been trying to get past the finish line for decades.

A state House committee heard testimony Wednesday on the bipartisan bills. They would require elected officials and candidates – like the governor, attorney general, and state lawmakers – to make certain regular disclosures. Those disclosures include the source of any income that’s more than  $5,000, the names of employers, and if immediate family members are lobbyists.

“I know that this is not an easy topic,” said bill sponsor David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) during the committee hearing. “Change is hard, even if it’s, in this case, I think really important change that we consider.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has called for the Legislature to pass financial disclosure laws. But the bills face an uphill battle in the state Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has been a firm opponent of the idea, though he has said that he will let the Legislative process play out.

“I think this is a kabuki theater, it’s much ado about nothing,” Shirkey told reporters of the bills. “I don’t think it adds anything of value to the conversations. We already require in both chambers to disclose when we have conflicts.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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