Rep. Kildee introduces bill on ethics

Watchdog groups give state an 'F' for ethics

FLINT — Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) has introduced his first piece of legislation in the 115th Congress aimed at cleaning up state government in Michigan and other state legislatures across the country.

Congressman Kildee’s legislation, The Make State Government More Open, Honest, and Transparent Act, would require states like Michigan to adopt common sense ethics laws which promote transparency and openness in government.

If a state failed to adopt the same common sense ethics standards required at the federal level, the state would lose the ability to administer various federal programs in areas like housing, education and health that it currently has the authority to run on its own. Instead, the state would cede authority to administer the programs to the appropriate federal department.

“My legislation is simple: it raises the bar for states to be more open and transparent with their constituents so that we can begin to restore public trust in government,” Congressman Kildee said. “Cleaning up government and holding lawmakers to high ethical standards should not be a political or partisan issue. I haven’t met a single Michigander who believes Lansing is too ethical.”

According to (nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations and winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism), Michigan ranks dead last among states when it comes to ethics and accountability laws; and receives a failing grade for laws in place to deter corruption among lawmakers.

Congressman Kildee’s Make State Government More Open, Honest and Transparent Act would:

Require state legislators to disclosure their own financial interests yearly so the public can identify conflicts of interest. Michigan state lawmakers currently are not required to be transparent with their constituents about their own financial interests.

Prohibit state legislators from requiring their staff to make a financial or in-kind contributions to political campaigns, including their own.

Ban state contractors from making state financial contributions. For over 75 years, federal law has prohibited individuals and firms working under federal contracts from giving money to federal candidates, parties or committees because such money could be a corrupting influence. This provision would require states to operate under the same rules.

“These common sense ethics reforms should be the floor – not the ceiling – when it comes to the State of Michigan adopting new ethics laws. Good governance in Lansing certainly does not end with just these reforms,” Kildee continued.

Kildee has been a forceful advocate for higher ethics standards for elected officials. Earlier this year, he was outspoken against Republican attempts to gut an independent ethics panel overseeing Congress. — G.G.

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