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Proposed Michigan constitutional amendment would create constitutional oversight panel

The Michigan State Capitol
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Michigan Capitol in Lansing

A proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution seeks to scrub partisan politics from the Legislature’s oversight of state government agencies.

The amendment would create a joint House and Senate oversight committee.

Republican Senator Ed McBroom is one of the sponsors. He told Michigan Public Radio that term limits and the frequent shifts in partisan power in Lansing make this a vital government reform.

“We make oversight in general something that’s just a standard practice that’s not whipsawed back and forth by the partisan nature of changing parties of power in the Legislature, changing of parties in power in the governor’s office,” he said.

McBroom said bipartisan oversight panels have been identified as a government best practice in multiple studies.

Under the resolution, an eight-lawmaker panel would be evenly divided between House and Senate members and Republicans and Democrats, with a rotating chair.

“It makes it so that both sides have to work together,” said Democratic Sen. Jeff Irwin, one of the resolution’s sponsors. “If one side wants to use it just as a partisan tool, well, they have to give up the gavel in a few months.”

The amendment would have to be adopted by super-majorities of the House and the Senate to put it on the November ballot, and then voters would decide whether to make it part of the state constitution.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.