Far from perfect, but ‘better than nothing,’ says Michigan coalition director of bill touted as a transparency measure

Unlike lawmakers in most states, Michigan legislators aren’t required to disclose their financial interests. A bipartisan bill would change that — kind of.

The bill would require lawmakers to disclose their financial information to a legislative committee, which would be exempt from the state’s Open Meetings and Freedom of Information acts. Only if the committee decides a lawmaker has violated ethics standards would the documents be made public.

“Is it as transparent as full disclosure? No,” said Steve Delie, executive director of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government. “There’s no bones about it, by not having more financial disclosure, the public is not going to be able to hold their lawmakers accountable.

“But what we have now is nothing. This is better than nothing.”