|Calley (Photo by DarKen Photography)|
By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley says he backs legislation to subject the legislature and Governor's office to the Freedom Of Information Act, making it easier for Michiganders to know what their government is up to and how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Senate Majorly Leader Arlan Meekhof refused to pass similar legislation last year, erroneously claiming he wants to "protect constituents." (By withholding information?! What is he hiding?)
Calley also thinks lawmakers should have to disclose other sources of income and potential conflicts of interest, just like Congressman and Senators in Washington DC are already required to do...Some lawmakers are already apparently taking issue with the proposed reforms...
According to Emily Lawler at MLive:
"A package to apply the state's Freedom of Information Act to the executive branch and extend a similar law to legislators died last year after Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, let it die in his Government Operations Committee.
A 2015 report from the Center for Public Integrity ranked Michigan as the least transparent and accountable state in the nation.
Calley said he was interested in looking at four areas of transparency and accountability in Michigan: conflicts of interest, open meetings, the Freedom of Information Act and disclosure.
On the conflicts of interest, he said, "people should have an understanding of what conflicts might exist, and how that could affect the decisions that people make."
In Michigan, lawmakers are paid $71,865 per year, and they meet in Lansing for three days per week. There is no prohibition on having other jobs or sources of income, which some lawmakers do.
Asked about the need for lawmakers to disclose financial conflicts of interest they might have, Calley said that ought to be reviewed, but "lawmakers are a few steps away from the areas that I would be most concerned about."
He said people who make decisions on state contractors were important to consider.
Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming, questioned why people didn't trust politicians at the event.
"Why does everybody assume politicians are dishonest?" Brann said. "...I think there's a lot of honest people out there, and politicians."
Calley said that while he's worked with many honest lawmakers, a lack of access to information fed the skepticism people had about them.
"In that vacuum, I think that people tend to assume the worst," Calley said."
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com