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Michigan lawmakers introduce financial disclosure package

Interior of the state Capitol's rotunda.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Michigan is currently one of only two states that do not require public officials to make financial disclosures (the other is Idaho).

A new package of bills from a bipartisan group of state Senators is looking to address that.

The Senate bills would require state lawmakers and top statewide officials (including the governor, attorney general and secretary of state) to disclose their income sources and assets.

These disclosures would list all income, assets, stocks, bonds and unearned income over $1,000. Liabilities over $10,000 would also be reported.

Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks said in a statement, "These bills do not single-handedly address the entirety of ethics improvements necessary for our state, but that should not undercut the historic nature of this moment. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), introduced one of the bills.

He said the bills were the beginning of increased transparency reform, not the end.

But critics say there are loopholes and weaknesses in the bill that need to be addressed.

“Senator Moss and others spoke that, you know, this law is only one part and we could pass other measures in the future, which I think is fine and that makes a lot of sense,” said Nick Pigeon, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a watchdog group.

Pigeon pointed out the legislation doesn't require reporting of specific dollar amounts or ranges.

“That's very weak compared to the rest of the country. In most states, there's at least a categorical, you know, I made one to 5,000 dollars from this source.”

He said the potential fine in the legislation is also lower than what's typical for similar laws in other states.

“It seems that there's only a $1,000 penalty for knowingly filing an incomplete or inaccurate report. You know, many other states…lower bound is $5,000, $10,000. Congresses is $50,000.”

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