Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > April 23 | This Week in Government: House, Senate Slash Whitmer Programs in LEO; No Charges Filed in Duggan Probe

April 23 | This Week in Government: House, Senate Slash Whitmer Programs in LEO; No Charges Filed in Duggan Probe

April 22, 2021
Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. House, Senate Slash Whitmer Programs in LEO; MIOSHA Targeted
  2. House Subcommittees Recommend Quarterly Budgets
  3. Nessel: No Charges Filed in Unlock Michigan or Duggan Probes
  4. Benson: Some GOP Election Bills Violate Constitutional Law
  5. House Leaders Agree to Bipartisan Gov’t Ethics Reform Package

House, Senate Slash Whitmer Programs in LEO; MIOSHA Targeted

The Michigan Reconnect program and the Future for Frontliners would be removed from the 2021-22 budget under a proposal moved by a House subcommittee on Tuesday that also would require the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration to reimburse businesses for any fines related to coronavirus violations.

A Senate subcommittee went further with MIOSHA, slashing funding to the agency by 20% (see more details on the Senate version of the budget below).

HB 4398, the general government budget reported by the House Appropriations General Government Subcommittee by a party-line vote, includes appropriations for the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Like most agency budgets recommended by House subcommittees on Tuesday, LEO’s budget would be quarterly. HB 4398 would include $403.38 million, far below the full-year recommended by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of $1.8 billion.

The budget, like most others, also gets rid of all but one unclassified positions, presumably to allow for the department director to remain. Other unclassified employees include deputy directors and legislative liaisons.

The House budget would not include $120 million for the Michigan Reconnect program, providing last-dollar scholarships to those older than 25 seeking a post-secondary certificate, $39.1 million for the Futures for Frontliners program seeking to provide educational opportunities for employees in industries disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 nor would it provide $35 million for the annual debt service associated with the Flint water crisis settlement.

A separate supplemental proposal would pay the full amount for the Flint water crisis settlement.

Additionally, the budget in boilerplate would require MIOSHA to return any fines levied on employers between April 30 and Oct. 13, 2020. It would also prohibit MIOSHA from identifying in press releases specific employers who violated emergency rules.

The House budget would retain $1 million General Fund for a biomedical research support grant for Van Andel Institute, something removed in the executive budget. It would also provide $1 million each for a child care provider and expansion grant for starting a child care provider business and for infrastructure improvements at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute.

Further, the proposal would provide $660,000 General Fund for a nonprofit that providers services to parolees and probationers assessed by the Department of Corrections as moderate or high-risk, $200,000 to small business development centers in certain regions and would increase by $500,000 funds to the Rural Jobs and Capital Investment Fund, money removed by the executive budget.

The House proposal would also reduce by $5.9 million funds to business attraction and community revitalization. It also would not include $15 million in additional funding to the Going Pro program, $3 million for a statewide pre-apprenticeship program helping those who are unemployed or underemployed, $10 million for the Housing and Community Development Fund to assist with low-income housing needs.

Another $25 million recommended by the governor for various mobility projects also was not included in the House proposal, and neither was $1 million for research seeking to improve the effectiveness of state benefit programs.

The House did agree to $2.2 million for pilot programs related to child savings accounts to provide grants for matching purposes. The proposal also agreed to $1.1 million for brownfield redevelopment.

Also included in the House proposal in a new item is $4 million to support ongoing fraud detection efforts in the Unemployment Insurance Agency. It did not agree to authorize 500 full-time employees in the agency.

In boilerplate, the budget would require the Pure Michigan campaign to prioritize sectors of the economy that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. It would also require the UIA to submit quarterly reports on expenditures and require the agency to open all of its branch offices full time.

SENATE LEO BUDGET LEAVES OUT WHITMER PRIORITIES, SLASHES MIOSHA: The Senate version of the 2021-22 fiscal year budget for the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity funds the full year, unlike the House, but it still chops funding priorities from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

And it takes a big swipe at the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has fined a number of employers for violating COVID-19 workplace rules, cutting funding by 20%, or $6.1 billion. The budget also reduces the number of full-time equivalent employees at MIOSHA by 39, down from 197.

SB 85 also omits a $122,700 increase for salary increases for unclassified employees in the department that Ms. Whitmer recommended.

The Senate Appropriations Labor and Economic Opportunity/MEDC Subcommittee rejected the proposal from Gov. Whitmer to increase funding for the Michigan Reconnect Program from $30 million to $120 million.

Additionally, Gov. Whitmer’s proposals for $39.1 million for the Futures for Frontliners program, $25 million for the Mobility Futures Initiative, $10 million for Housing and Community Development, $6 million for wraparound services, and a handful of smaller items were omitted from the budget the subcommittee approved.

The subcommittee approved a $15 million increase to the Pure Michigan tourism promotion program, up from $25 million in the current year. Gov. Whitmer had recommended no change.

Both the subcommittee and the Governor recommended increases for the Going Pro program, though went about it in different ways. Gov. Whitmer recommended a $15 million one-time increase on top of $28.7 million in ongoing funding. The subcommittee instead approved an $11.3 million increase in ongoing funding.

Overall, the Senate budget contains $1.67 billion ($229.1 million General Fund). That’s $163.3 million less than Gov. Whitmer’s recommendation ($192.1 million less General Fund). It is a 1% reduction from current year spending (8.9% reduction General Fund).

House Subcommittees Recommend Quarterly Budgets

Funding for most state agencies would be done on a quarterly basis, a far step away from the traditional process for state government, under budget proposals advanced by House subcommittees on Tuesday.

House Republicans said the quarterly budget, instead of appropriating funds for the full 2021-22 fiscal year like usual, would assist in oversight of taxpayer spending. It was not used, however, in budgets for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Department of State Police, the Office of the Auditor General, the Legislature nor the Executive Office.

The House subcommittees also moved to prohibit “vaccine passports,” or proof of vaccination status for state employees and to require reports on severance payments in the boilerplate of agency budgets.

Gongwer News Service requested an interview with House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) about the dramatic change in appropriations.

Instead, House Republicans provided a statement from him in which he said quarterly budgeting would not be used in education or “certain areas” of the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget, which were not taken up on Tuesday. He also said it would not be used in public safety.

“One of the Legislature’s main missions is oversight of how taxpayer money is spent. Moving to a quarterly system for reviewing and approving budgets will help us fulfill that mission. This change ensures more accountability, efficiency, and transparency by building it right into the system four times a year through legislative review. It will help us ensure, on behalf of Michigan taxpayers, that their money is spent as intended,” Albert said. “Outside of government, quarterly budgeting is common. It helps businesses and even many families keep their finances on track. It makes sense for state government to use a similar process.”

State Budget Director Dave Massaron in a statement called quarterly budget “a particularly silly position.”

“It is a normal part of the process for each chamber to stake out its position and then begin in earnest working on a budget together. I look forward to target setting after the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference in May and bringing this process to conclusion,” he said. “I will say that some House subcommittees this year decided to stake out a particularly silly position with three-month budgeting. Three-month budgeting doesn’t work in the private sector, anyone’s personal finances, and certainly not for government. It’s odd that former Governor Snyder received praise for bringing a long-term view of budgeting to state government, yet now they want to implement a three-month budgeting practice that has never been done before.”

Indeed, 10 years ago, Snyder and legislative Republicans made a big push toward two-year budgeting. Democrats also heralded the move. While the second year of a two-year budget is non-binding, it does set forth general expectations.

On Tuesday, the House advanced quarterly budget proposals for the Department of Natural Resources, the Department Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Attorney General, the Department of Civil Rights, the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the Department of State, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the Department of Treasury.

The Michigan Environmental Council, the National Wildlife Federation, AFSCME Council 25, the Michigan Nurses Association, and the AFL-CIO blasted the budget moves by the House GOP.

“Republicans have decided to shred any hope for bipartisanship in Lansing with yet another misguided attempt to hurt the governor, but the only people this political stunt will hurt is the people they’re supposed to be working for,” Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, said in a statement. “This so-called budget is nothing more than an expression of their unhinged anger that the governor has dared to act to protect people from a deadly virus over the last year. They should be ashamed, and they should get to work on a real budget.”

Nessel: No Charges Filed in Unlock Michigan or Duggan Probes

While individuals working with Unlock Michigan were found to have lied to and misled signatories of the petition initiative, actions “do not rise to the level that would support criminal charges,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said Wednesday in announcing there would be no charges filed against anyone related to the effort.

News of the lack of charges came during a press conference, where Nessel also announced that no charges would be filed against Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for his involvement with the nonprofit Make Your Date. He had been accused of prioritizing the nonprofit when distributing grants subsidized through taxpayer dollars while having a romantic relationship with the program’s founder.

Regarding the Unlock Michigan investigation, Nessel said that her office had examined the evidence against nine individuals but that there was “a lack of sufficient, admissible evidence to bring criminal charges against anyone involved.” She did, however, say that it was not Unlock workers who potentially broke the law but rather one of those involved with the Keep Michigan Safe organization trying to stop the initiative who crossed the line.

Issues against the initiative stemmed from allegations that paid circulators were purposefully misleading individuals signing the petition, which sought to repeal a 1945 law Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used to keep Michigan under a state of emergency during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

This began with Unlock hiring National Petition Management to aid in its signature-gathering process. The group then brought on In the Field and Let the Voters Decide, two companies tasked with gathering signatures on the east and west sides of the state, respectively. Heading circulation efforts for In the Field was Erik Tisinger and for Let the Voters Decide was Mark Jacoby.

Tisinger was the subject of video taken at one point while training circulators, advising attendees that people who signed the initiative would allow for the petition to get on the ballot so that voters could weigh in on revoking the governor’s powers. In reality, that was never the case. The petition was always intended to be sent to the Legislature for consideration.

He also advised unethical signature-gathering tactics during training, advising that circulators play dumb if caught so that they would not get in trouble. These remarks were taped by a man named Richard Williamson, employed by the firm Farough and Associates, by way of a pen that doubled as a camera. That firm is headed by Dan Farough, a longtime Democratic operative.

Farough was hired by the group Keep Michigan Safe, which opposed Unlock Michigan’s goal of repealing the 1945 law.

“Our investigation established that (Tisinger) is fully aware of the requirements of the law and seems to relish finding ways to skirt the rules as demonstrated by how he instructed circulators in various ways,” Nessel said. “Though comments made by Tisinger during the training sessions are unethical, possibly even immoral, they do not rise to a level that would support criminal charges. They are simply not sufficient to establish that the necessary intent to encourage or solicit criminal activity by those circulating petitions in support of Unlock Michigan.”

Farough’s staff was also involved in recording other instances of misconduct – three in total: one at the Brighton Farmer’s Market, another at the restaurant Falcon’s Nest, and at the Howell Western Wear Store. In each instance, Gretchen Hertz – an attorney and Farough employee – attempted to sign a petition at each location, asking if she could also sign the name of her husband as well.

In every encounter, Hertz is told that she can, and in at least one instance she signs for the name Michael Hertz and does not cross the name out. This, Nessel said, is against state law as there is a provision which bars a voter from signing someone else’s name to a ballot question petition (Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misrepresented penalties for signing another person’s name to a ballot question).

However, state law does not prohibit circulators from making false statements to a voter about the purpose of a petition to try and gain their signature. It also does not impose any criminal sanctions for making misrepresentations to a voter to induce them to sign a ballot question petition.

There is also no provision which imposes criminal sanctions for misrepresenting a petition, or any law that prohibits a circulator from advising a voter that they could sign their spouse’s name – or the name of any person, for that matter – on a petition.

In attempting to catch Unlock Michigan doing something illegal, Nessel said, Hertz and Farough created a “significant hurdle” in pursuing charges against the group as they crossed the line “between simply witnessing and recording, and inducing criminal conduct.”

“Ms. Hertz went from simply recording illegal conduct to engaging in criminal conduct herself,” she said, adding that attempts to interview her were unsuccessful.

Nessel said that Hertz would only agree to an interview if she was assured her words would not be used against her in a court of law. When that could not be guaranteed, Nessel said it rendered the video evidence Hertz had gathered as useless because “without someone laying the legal foundation or admitting the videos at trial, we would not be able to use them in any proceeding.”

“There can be no doubt that many of the statutes imposing criminal sanctions were violated during the circulation of the Unlock Michigan petition,” Nessel said. “However, for a variety of reasons, criminal prosecution is simply not feasible here.”

Following the announcement, Keep Michigan Safe spokesman Mark Fisk said in a statement that while the group was disappointed in the results of the investigation, the probe’s findings “make it more important than ever that the Board of Canvassers and Secretary of State should investigate the unethical and illegal practices of Unlock Michigan before considering certification.”

“While we’re disappointed the Attorney General’s investigation was unable to hold Unlock Michigan accountable for its actions, the Board of Canvassers and the Secretary of State have an obligation to thoroughly investigate the petition as detailed in our challenge,” Fisk said, alluding to the 40-page challenge the group initially filed against Unlock Michigan’s gathered signatures.

His statement offered no comment regarding Hertz’s alleged violations of the Michigan Election Law.

Keep Michigan Safe has also filed a lawsuit in the Court of Claims, asking for a judge to halt the review of the petition due to what they believe are “numerous flaws, improprieties and flagrant violations of election law.” This is, by most accounts, a long shot.

Unlock Michigan spokesperson Fred Wszolek fired back at the mention of the lawsuit, via Twitter, writing: “If @MarkBrewerDems had any sense, he’d withdraw his nonsense complaint in front of the Board of Canvassers, withdraw his frivolous motions in the Court of Claims, and go away quietly for a while.”

Mark Brewer, former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, serves as the attorney for Keep Michigan Safe.

Wszolek later told Gongwer News Service that the decision has “been a long time coming.”

“We’re excited that the last obstacle has been removed from the Board of State Canvassers doing its legal duty tomorrow to certify our petitions,” he said in a statement. “Since the attorney general has made clear that the only actual documented crimes committed were those committed by operatives working for Mark Brewer and Keep Michigan Safe, we’d expect Brewer to withdraw his frivolous complaint to the board and motions before the Court of Claims.”

Unlock Michigan’s initiative petition is scheduled to come before the Board of State Canvassers at 10 a.m. Thursday for consideration of sufficiency after the Bureau of Elections earlier this week determined the group had gathered enough signatures to have the petition certified and sent to the Legislature.

The meeting will be streamed online.

NO CHARGES IN MAKE YOUR DATE PROBE: Also Wednesday, Nessel announced that the Department of Attorney General’s investigation into the Detroit nonprofit program Make Your Date concluded that Duggan – who strongly supported the initiative with federal grants, but also had a personal relationship with its director – exhibited no criminal wrongdoing.

Make Your Date is a free maternal health program designed to prevent pre-term births for at-risk mothers in Detroit and is affiliated with Wayne State University.

The initial impetus of the investigation was to determine whether there was criminal conduct associated with Duggan’s office in specifying that Make Your Date Detroit was a priority and providing it with taxpayer funds. There was also an issue raised with Duggan then-Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley having ordered the destruction of emails by employees regarding their communications related to fundraising activities on behalf of the Make Your Date Detroit program.

As part of the investigation, the Department of Attorney General interviewed or reinterviewed 21 witnesses, reviewed more than 1,500 pages of financial documents from the Detroit Health Department, Southeast Michigan Health Association, and WSU, executed search warrants and reviewed more than 1 million documents seized with the aid of the Department of State Police from the city’s information technology department.

The Department of Attorney General also reviewed documents from the Charitable Trust Section, Office of Inspector General report and other additional documents from the city including its procurement ordinances and policies, email use policy, records retention policies, Detroit City Charter, and every Freedom of Information Act request from Nov. 13, 2018, through June 15, 2019, related to Make Your Date Detroit. It also reviewed Detroit Health Department grant plan submissions and the known civil lawsuits against Detroit related to FOIA litigation.

Specifically, Nessel’s investigation focused on two conversations between Wiley and Ryan Fredrichs, Office of Development and Grants director, which occurred in December 2018 and February 2019. Emails were also deleted during that same time frame.

The erasure of emails was evaluated for potential FOIA violations, which is a civil offense, and other criminal statutes were considered as part of the investigation including bribery of a public official, embezzlement by a public official, destruction of public records, and destruction of evidence in future proceedings.

After reviewing all evidence, Nessel said, no criminal charges could be sustained against any city employee.

“I would like to note that the absence of adequate evidence to charge individuals with crimes does not absolve the parties of their ethical obligation to meet the expectations of public trust inherent to their roles as employees and officials of the City of Detroit,” she said. “I believe there is ample opportunity to improve upon the operations of city government, especially with regard to transparency and accountability to the residents of Detroit.”

Benson: Some GOP Election Bills Violate Constitutional Law

Some of the election law changes proposed by Republicans in the Legislature would violate the state and U.S. constitutions, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday.

Benson continued to step up her attacks on the legislation with a news conference featuring Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and others.

One of the unknowns as the Republican legislative majorities prepare to press forward with bills that would set new requirements to vote via absentee ballot, toughen the voter identification mandate, change the size of some local canvassing boards and more is whether they would violate Proposal 3 of 2018, which added Section 4 to Article II of the Michigan Constitution.

That constitutional amendment makes clear voters have the right to cast a ballot, either in person or absentee. It also gives the Legislature the power to “enact laws to regulate the time, place and manner of all nominations and elections, to preserve the purity of elections, to preserve the secrecy of the ballot, to guard against abuses of the elective franchise, and to provide for a system of voter registration and absentee voting.”

Benson said her priority right now is to focus a message to the Legislature as it prepares to move legislation about how “bad and pernicious these policies will be for the people they serve.” But Benson did say the bills could run afoul of constitutional law.

“I do believe that many of the provisions in this package potentially violate numerous constitutional provisions at the state and federal level, not the least of which is the right that citizens have voted to give themselves to have the right to vote absentee,” she said. “So those types of things will continue to be discussed as these policies move forward and also will illuminate as has happened in other states various pathways to challenging any of these policies that would potentially violate the constitution in future moments.”

Benson also was asked about how the bills would scrap the current voter ID law that says voters can either present a photo identification at the polls when voting in person or sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that they are the person they claim to be. Instead, the bills would require voters to present photo ID. Those who do not will be given a provisional ballot that only would be counted if they present photo identification to their clerk within six days.

Further, there would be a photo identification requirement for absentee voters. Currently, absentee ballot identities are monitored by checking a person’s signature on the envelope with their ballot against their signature in the state’s Qualified Voter File. Under the legislation, an absentee voter would have to send a photocopy of a photo ID with their application for an absentee ballot.

“This is another example of something that enables a … legislator to say look we’re doing more to protect the security of elections, we’re protecting the integrity of the process,” Benson said of the identification requirement and use of the provisional ballot. “But there’s no evidence that this is necessary. There’s no evidence that the current system hasn’t been working efficiently and effectively. But there’s plenty of evidence that this would require additional burdens that would deter someone from participating.”

Chris Thomas, the state’s former elections director, said in an email that the Senate legislation misuses the provisional process. The provisional ballot was created as a mechanism for a voter who shows up to vote at the polls but is not in the pollbook, he said.

“There is no real question whether the voter is registered,” he said of how the bill would use the provisional process. “He is as his name is on the list. He may have a long voting history but does not have his ID with him. He is now relegated to two-step voting. Complete the provisional ballot on election day and then within six days after the election make a trip to the clerk’s office to present his ID. We know that it is rare for a person to take the second step. Without any showing of fraud, it is hard not to ascribe suppression motives to this.”

Thomas also noted the 2007 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that upheld the state’s photo identification requirement because the burden on voters to instead sign an affidavit was reasonable and nondiscriminatory.

Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), chair of the Senate Elections Committee, called Benson’s news conference “WWE for politics.” She said the bills haven’t even gone through committee.

“By nature, this process is bipartisan,” she said in a statement. “These bills haven’t even gone through the committee process – during that period we will take input from all sides and all stakeholders before going to the next chamber for their process. And then, of course, they will be on a Democratic governor’s desk for her signature.”

Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), chair of the Senate Oversight Committee, called Benson’s comments inflammatory.

House Leaders Agree to Bipartisan Gov’t Ethics Reform Package

Efforts to further expand Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, prohibit legislators and department heads from becoming lobbyists for two years after their tenure, and strengthen penalties for legislative misconduct are expected to be announced later this week as part of a bipartisan package of bills centered on reforming government ethics in state government.

While the bills themselves are not expected to come up in committee until next week, lawmakers Tuesday said the reforms are common sense and driven by constituents’ concerns about making the Legislature more accountable.

“When you get outside of the small Lansing and Capitol community and tell people back home how their state government operates, you really see how bizarre some of our rules are and why so many people are losing their faith in government,” House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) said in a statement. “We must do better and hold ourselves to a higher standard. We must listen to the people who sent us here and understand why they are losing faith. That is why ethics reform has been one of my top priorities, and why we are all working together now to raise the bar in state government and make our entire system more open, honest, and accountable to the people we serve.”

As part of the proposed package legislators and the Governor would no longer be exempt from FOIA requests, lawmakers and high-ranking officials in the executive branch would be required to disclose their finances to a newly created oversight panel to determine any conflicts of interests and lobbyists would be mandated to disclose money spent on staff of influential lawmakers.

Lobbyists already must disclose money spent to lobby state officials. Closing the staffer loophole would be done by adding in all policy-making staff in the Legislature and Office of the Governor to a list of “lobbyable” officials.

“The people are asked too often to simply trust that elected officials are acting in the public interest and holding themselves accountable. That’s a failed, unacceptable system,” House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) said in a statement. “These reforms represent meaningful, if incremental, steps that will help restore citizens’ faith in our government by increasing transparency and demanding high ethical standards from public servants. It’s long past time to stop talking about reform in Lansing and start taking action. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see that these reforms become law.”

Additional efforts to improve ethical standards, as part of the bill package, would include:

  • Prohibiting legislative conflicts of interest by banning lawmakers from voting for personal benefit;
  • Prohibiting legislators from lobbying out-of-state, to halt potential conflicts of interests in-state;
  • Banning the civil appointment of lobbyists to a state board or commission;
  • Closing what is known as the “revolving door” by prohibiting lawmakers and department heads from becoming lobbyists for two years after the end of their term or tenure;
  • Ending most lame-duck legislative activity by requiring the support of a bipartisan supermajority of legislators in each chamber to pass any bills during the period after the November election in even-numbered years;
  • Requiring bipartisan support for laws to take immediate effect by requiring a record roll call vote with supermajority support to be required to give bills immediate effect.

Under the proposed package, penalties for unethical conduct would also be created. Unlawful gifts to state officials worth less than $3,000 would be subject to a heightened criminal fine of up to $7,500 under the package, and a new civil fine of up to $2,000 per violation would also be created. The bills would also expand penalties for legislative misconduct by suspending the salary and expense allowances of a legislator who acts unethically or is excessively absent by a supermajority vote.

Further, a new and bipartisan ethics committee would be created in both the House and Senate – with an equal party split and alternating co-chairs – to enforce the ethics and conflict of interest laws, issue advisory opinions, accept and investigate public complaints about legislator misconduct and recommend disciplinary action. Should the committees determine wrongdoing occurred, it would also be forced to make all evidence of the misdeed public.

Some of these bills have already seen introduction in legislative committees or action, including the altering of FOIA compliance and changes to the lame-duck session. The rest are expected to be introduced this week and discussed in committee starting next week.

“For too long, Michigan has lacked even basic laws that give voters the information we need to know how politicians make decisions and whether they are serving our interests,” Nancy Wang, the executive director of Voters Not Politicians, said in a statement. “These bills won’t solve all of the problems in Lansing, but they will be an important first step to put us on the right track to ensure our politicians are accountable to us.”

The group has worked with lawmakers of both parties for the last two years to “build support for a comprehensive package of ethics, transparency, and accountability reforms” Wang said, adding that she expects swift passage of these bills given the bipartisan agreement on them.

And while appetite in the House for these reforms appears great, it’s unknown what their reception will be in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has long strongly opposed financial disclosure requirements for lawmakers.

“Senator Shirkey is always supportive of making government more accountable to the people of Michigan and looks forward to working through the legislative process,” Abby Walls, Shirkey press secretary, said in a statement.