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      November 4, 2021

      Michigan’s Legislative Oversight Could Benefit from Some Systemic Reforms, Including the Use of Sunset Provisions

      A new Citizens Research Council report examines and evaluates Michigan’s existing legislative oversight provisions and offers suggested reforms, including regular use of sunset provisions, to assure that state government operations are efficient and effective.

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      Contact: Eric Lupher, elupher@crcmich.org, 734-542-8001

      What we found:

      1. Many elements of effective and ongoing legislative oversight are already in place, including a constitutionally empowered Auditor General, the Legislative Council, oversight elements in the appropriations process, actions by standing policy committees, and reviews by both legislative oversight committees.
      2. Should Michigan want to move to a more active and comprehensive system of legislative review – one conducted by lawmakers themselves – lawmakers should consider making sunset legislation a more comprehensive aspect, rather than the current political tactic system.
      3. To take full advantage of the existing direct and implied oversight authority provided to the Michigan Legislature, lawmakers should, first, establish a framework for such authority in a formal setting; at a minimum, as part of legislative rules or through statute.

      Current leadership in both the Michigan House and Senate have expressed a commitment to greater legislative oversight in recent years. This is not surprising given the many important challenges that the state government has been called to respond to in recent years – the Flint water crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic are two examples. 

      With this general legislative interest as background, the Research Council is releasing a new report today – Imagining What Should Be: Robust Legislative Oversight. Robust, intentional and ongoing review of government actions are important to the checks and balances among the branches of government and to the pursuit of an economical, accountable state government. 

      “The apolitical use of sunset provisions in states with successful legislative oversight really struck me,” said Eric Lupher, President of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “Their legislative structures for oversight activities include representatives of both political parties. Officials running departments, agencies, and programs know the schedule for review ahead of time. Public trust is enhanced because they know that review isn’t being done to score political points. Rather, the identification of opportunities for service improvement and elimination of wasteful spending is used to save taxpayer dollars.”

      Research for this report was conducted by long-time Michigan capitol observer and reporter, John Lindstrom. John’s 36-year career covering state government and politics, including a long spell as editor and publisher at Gongwer News Service, provided him with a unique and informed perspective to research and write about this topic. John’s research included personal interviews with a number of current and former state officials involved with Michigan’s oversight system, some who were able to offer their personal insights into Michigan’s prior experience with the development and use of sunset legislation.  

      “Two assumptions go into successful implementation of sunset provisions,” Mr. Lupher added. “First, legislative action will not always adequately address policy problems. Humility is important in an era of term limited legislators with little time for Representatives and Senators to develop policy expertise. Second, that society, the economy, and technology are ever changing, so policy solutions that were on target in earlier times might not be the best solutions for today.”

      President

      About The Author

      Eric Lupher

      President

      Eric has been President of the Citizens Research Council since September of 2014. He has been with the Citizens Research Council since 1987, the first two years as a Lent Upson-Loren Miller Fellow, and since then as a Research Associate and, later, as Director of Local Affairs. Eric has researched such issues as state taxes, state revenue sharing, highway funding, unemployment insurance, economic development incentives, and stadium funding. His recent work focused on local government matters, including intergovernmental cooperation, governance issues, and municipal finance. Eric is a past president of the Governmental Research Association and also served as vice-chairman of the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council (GASAC), an advisory body for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), representing the user community on behalf of the Governmental Research Association.

      Michigan’s Legislative Oversight Could Benefit from Some Systemic Reforms, Including the Use of Sunset Provisions

      A new Citizens Research Council report examines and evaluates Michigan’s existing legislative oversight provisions and offers suggested reforms, including regular use of sunset provisions, to assure that state government operations are efficient and effective.

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      Contact: Eric Lupher, elupher@crcmich.org, 734-542-8001

      What we found:

      1. Many elements of effective and ongoing legislative oversight are already in place, including a constitutionally empowered Auditor General, the Legislative Council, oversight elements in the appropriations process, actions by standing policy committees, and reviews by both legislative oversight committees.
      2. Should Michigan want to move to a more active and comprehensive system of legislative review – one conducted by lawmakers themselves – lawmakers should consider making sunset legislation a more comprehensive aspect, rather than the current political tactic system.
      3. To take full advantage of the existing direct and implied oversight authority provided to the Michigan Legislature, lawmakers should, first, establish a framework for such authority in a formal setting; at a minimum, as part of legislative rules or through statute.

      Current leadership in both the Michigan House and Senate have expressed a commitment to greater legislative oversight in recent years. This is not surprising given the many important challenges that the state government has been called to respond to in recent years – the Flint water crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic are two examples. 

      With this general legislative interest as background, the Research Council is releasing a new report today – Imagining What Should Be: Robust Legislative Oversight. Robust, intentional and ongoing review of government actions are important to the checks and balances among the branches of government and to the pursuit of an economical, accountable state government. 

      “The apolitical use of sunset provisions in states with successful legislative oversight really struck me,” said Eric Lupher, President of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “Their legislative structures for oversight activities include representatives of both political parties. Officials running departments, agencies, and programs know the schedule for review ahead of time. Public trust is enhanced because they know that review isn’t being done to score political points. Rather, the identification of opportunities for service improvement and elimination of wasteful spending is used to save taxpayer dollars.”

      Research for this report was conducted by long-time Michigan capitol observer and reporter, John Lindstrom. John’s 36-year career covering state government and politics, including a long spell as editor and publisher at Gongwer News Service, provided him with a unique and informed perspective to research and write about this topic. John’s research included personal interviews with a number of current and former state officials involved with Michigan’s oversight system, some who were able to offer their personal insights into Michigan’s prior experience with the development and use of sunset legislation.  

      “Two assumptions go into successful implementation of sunset provisions,” Mr. Lupher added. “First, legislative action will not always adequately address policy problems. Humility is important in an era of term limited legislators with little time for Representatives and Senators to develop policy expertise. Second, that society, the economy, and technology are ever changing, so policy solutions that were on target in earlier times might not be the best solutions for today.”

    • Recent Posts

    • Recent Comments

      • Archives

      • Categories

      • Meta

      • Stay informed of new research published and other Citizens Research Council news.


        By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
        President

        About The Author

        Eric Lupher

        President

        Eric has been President of the Citizens Research Council since September of 2014. He has been with the Citizens Research Council since 1987, the first two years as a Lent Upson-Loren Miller Fellow, and since then as a Research Associate and, later, as Director of Local Affairs. Eric has researched such issues as state taxes, state revenue sharing, highway funding, unemployment insurance, economic development incentives, and stadium funding. His recent work focused on local government matters, including intergovernmental cooperation, governance issues, and municipal finance. Eric is a past president of the Governmental Research Association and also served as vice-chairman of the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council (GASAC), an advisory body for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), representing the user community on behalf of the Governmental Research Association.

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