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New Michigan House Speaker Calls For More Accountability


The new legislative session in Michigan began Wednesday with incoming House leadership calling for improved government transparency and complaining that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has eroded public trust in state government with her response to the coronavirus pandemic.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth said during a news conference that the Legislature must change how it governs the state. He didn’t specify how that might happen. He also suggested more could be done to hold elected officials accountable for their missteps.

“Anything that improves the transparency and accountability of government is on the table,” Wentworth said.

Michigan has had some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the country over the course of the pandemic, which is a point of contention for many Republicans. Wentworth said the governor keeps setting “arbitrary” dates for lifting restrictions then switching things up to the detriment of local businesses.

Caution in reopening parts of the economy has saved lives, Whitmer said during a public update on COVID-19.

Wentworth said he is introducing a resolution that will require a two-thirds vote on bills introduced during the period between Election Day and the end of some lawmakers’ terms, known as lame duck sessions. He said the measure aims to make the process more trustworthy and remove some of the negativity that can surround lame duck bills.

Speaker Pro-Tempore Pamela Hornberger joined Wentworth to announce legislation that would prohibit representatives from voting on bills in which they or their family members stand to gain, to remove any perceived conflict of interest.

House Minority Leader Rep. Donna Lasinski recently sent Wentworth a letter asking him to discipline and not seat 18 Republican legislators who rejected the legitimacy of the presidential election, saying they stoked the fires of violence seen in the U.S. Capitol last week.

Wentworth said though he doesn’t agree with the letter, he will continue to have conversations across the aisle.

Since the attack in Washington, D.C., by supporters of President Donald Trump, the FBI has warned of plans by radicals to attack state Capitol buildings nationwide, including in Michigan, which banned open carry of firearms inside the building on Monday.

Wentworth, who challenges the authority of the commission that made the open carry rule, said he denounces violence and supports the people’s 1st Amendment right to peaceful protest.

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