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Bipartisan group of lawmakers trying again to get conflict of interest disclosure law passed

State capitol
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The legislature will vote on changes to health care benefits for public employees tomorrow.

A bipartisan coalition of state representatives is reintroducing a package of eight bills that would require state officials and candidates to disclose some personal financial information.

The lawmakers said the goal is to increase transparency by helping to screen for potential conflicts of interest.

"It's critical that we have elected officials who are willing to be transparent with their financial interests and share that information with the voters in order to restore and try to rebuild voter confidence in elected offiicials," said Rep. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids), one of the bills' sponsors.LaGrand said financial disclosure helps to show that elected officials are working for the common good, rather than for personal financial gain.

"We are running a race to be the last state in the country to not have financial disclosure," said LaGrand, adding that only Michigan and Idaho don't have these rules.

If passed, the package of bills would apply to elected members of the Legislature, Judiciary, and Executive branch, as well as elected university boards and the State Board of Education.  

Under the legislation, officials would have to reveal assets, such as stocks, real estate investments, and business associations. But they would not have to report the value of the assets, their net worth, or the amount of their income. The disclosure requirements would also apply to immediate family of the elected officials. 

Similar legislation died in the House Ways and Means Committee last year.

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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