The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would bar legislators from voting on legislation where they could have a conflict of interest.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-32-Chesterfield), would prohibit a state legislator from voting on a bill if that legislator had a personal or professional interest in the proposal.
“This is an effort to force state government officials to become more trustworthy and accountable to the people they represent,” Hornberger said in a statement announcing the introduction of the bill. “It’s a common-sense rule. No elected official should be able to vote for any legislation that somehow benefits them or a relative.”
Under Hornberger’s plan, if a legislator were considering investing in a company within a particular industry, for example, and the Legislature was set to vote on a plan to reduce taxes on that same industry, the legislator would be required to abstain from the vote. For example, Hornberger said, if a legislator were considering investing in a company in particular industry, that legislator would be required to recuse themselves from a vote about whether to lower taxes on that same industry.
Those who decline to recuse themselves are subject to disciplinary action.
The Michigan Senate already has a similar rule in place, Hornberger said.
The bill passed 105-3.
Among the bill’s supporters was Rep. Mark Huizenga (R-74-Walker).
“As legislators, my colleagues and I have a duty to ensure that our laws are fair and in the best interest of the people of Michigan, but a conflict of interest can subconsciously affect even the best-intentioned lawmaker’s judgment,” Huizenga said in a statement. “I proudly support this plan to limit the possibility of conflicts of interest and improve the people’s trust in their elected representatives.”
The bill now heads to the Senate.
Read the bill here.
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