Legislation extends open record requirements to governor, Legislature
State Rep. Annette Glenn’s plan to make state government more accountable to the people of Michigan was unanimously approved today by the Michigan House.
Glenn, of Midland, said Michigan is one of just two states that still exempts its governor and state legislators from open records laws. Her legislation is part of a bipartisan plan to end these exemptions and increase transparency in state government.
“With this solution, we will ensure people receive the transparency they deserve from all of their elected officials,” Glenn said. “This added accountability will go a long way toward restoring the public’s trust in their government.”
The proposal will subject the governor and lieutenant governor to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and hold state representatives and senators to the same high standard by creating the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).
While LORA mirrors FOIA in many ways, there are exemptions for constituent inquiries to ensure that personal information is protected and kept private. Other communications lawmakers have with state departments and lobbyists would not be exempt.
House Bills 4007-13 and 4015-16 now advance to the Senate for consideration.
Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, a member of the budget-setting House Appropriations Committee, on Friday rejected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal in the upcoming fiscal year budget for a 45-cent tax increase on gas, but praised the governor’s call to repeal the 2011 income tax increase on retiree pensions.
Both stances are consistent with what Glenn told residents in Bay and Midland counties last year prior to becoming a state legislator.
Glenn said the 45-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase – which would be phased in over three years and make Michigan’s gas tax the highest in the nation – would hit middle class families and senior citizens hardest. She criticized Whitmer for breaking faith with voters by making the proposal.
“As a candidate last year, Gov. Whitmer expressly told voters she would not increase our gas tax, even saying during one debate that it was ‘ridiculous’ to suggest she would try,” Glenn said. “Now that what the governor claimed was ‘ridiculous’ has become a sad reality only three months into the job, I’m committed to keeping faith with middle class families and senior citizens by protecting them from this attempt to dig even deeper into their family budgets and retirement.
“Instead, Michigan residents have every right to expect our state government to live within its means, just as individuals and families do,” Glenn said. “Plus, it’s critical to keep the tax burden on families and businesses as low as possible to continue creating new jobs and attracting new job creators to mid-Michigan.”
Consistent with that concern, Rep. Glenn praised the governor’s support for bipartisan tax relief legislation to repeal a 2011 law that applied the state income tax to pensions.
“That was one of the issues I heard complaints about most often last year talking to thousands of residents in Bay and Midland counties,” Glenn said. “I applaud the governor for recognizing this unfair burden on senior citizens who’ve paid taxes all their lives, and then are asked to pay taxes a second time on their earnings when they’re living on a fixed income. She can certainly count on my support as a member of the Appropriations Committee to repeal that unfair burden.”
Glenn also praised the governor’s proposal — in addition to general funding of public schools — to maintain funding for ‘at risk’ students. Glenn noted that in the current fiscal year budget, Midland Public Schools received $500,000 for “at risk” students, the first time in the 25-year history of the program that Midland schools received such funding. The other four school districts Glenn represents – Bay City schools in Auburn, Bullock Creek, Meridian, and Pinconning schools – have long received such funding.
But even though Midland is now receiving such funding for the first time, a significant accomplishment, “at risk” students in Midland Public Schools still don’t receive the same amount per pupil as in other districts across the state. Glenn said she is committed to working toward funding parity for “at risk” students statewide, ensuring that such students in Midland receive the same amount of assistance per pupil.
Glenn said she would also support increased funding for an elementary school literacy project included in the current fiscal year budget that has already produced dramatic improvements in the reading scores of students in the Clio school system. Glenn was involved locally last year in winning support for funding the pilot project based on proven techniques used by the Children’s Dyslexia Center in Bay City.
“The state’s new third grade reading law expressly requires that such techniques be used in our public schools,” she said, “and given the extremely encouraging results of the pilot project, we should expand the implementation of these techniques to as many school districts as possible, as quickly as possible. It may prove to be the most effective and cost effective spending in our entire K-12 budget, with the most impact on children’s reading and their ability thereafter to learn and succeed in school and in pursuing their dreams thereafter.”
Glenn is in her first term in the state House of Representatives and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, also serves on four appropriations subcommittees. She is vice chair of the subcommittees on Health and Human Services and on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Insurance and Financial Services, and also serves on the subcommittees on Natural Resources and Environmental Quality and on School Aid and Department of Education.
Citizens who would like to offer input into the state budget can contact Rep. Glenn at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 517-373-1791.
By Rep. Annette Glenn
Published in the Midland Daily News
Everything I do as your new representative in the Michigan House is done with energy, optimism and the best interests of Midland and Bay counties at heart.
That's why I am honored to serve on the House Appropriations Committee in the 2019-20 legislative session. This position provides an excellent opportunity to represent and protect taxpayers while responsibly building a better Michigan for today and tomorrow.
The House Appropriations Committee is tasked with helping to shape our state government budget, which in turn affects each and every Michigan resident in countless ways.
The governor and Legislature will begin work on the next state budget within the next few weeks. This is the taxpayers' money -- they entrust it to government to provide the services necessary to ensure the quality of life we've come to expect here in Michigan. Every dollar must be spent wisely and efficiently by a government that lives within its means, because taxpayers deserve the best possible return on their investment.
I serve as vice chair of a subcommittee shaping budgets for state departments related to occupational licensing and regulatory affairs. I believe these departments should protect the health and safety of Michigan residents while allowing job providers to create opportunities for the people of our state without needless bureaucracy.
I am also a member of subcommittees overseeing budgets for health and human services, and also for schools -- where I will focus on results such as improved third-grade literacy and enhanced educational options for all students. The priority is serving our children and helping them prepare for whatever future they choose for themselves -- be that skilled trades, higher education, small business ownership or some other option.
The current state budget includes, for the first time ever, $500,000 in new funding for "at risk" students attending Midland schools, a source of revenue other schools districts in Bay and Midland counties have received for decades. But that new allocation for Midland schools does not provide as much funding per pupil as in other districts. The budget also includes funding for a demonstration project, already successful in improving third-grade reading scores, that employs teaching methods proven effective by the Bay City Dyslexia Center. I'll work to secure funding equity for Midland's "at risk" students, and to expand the third-grade reading project to more districts.
I also serve as vice chair of a subcommittee overseeing state budgets for environmental quality and natural resources to ensure Michigan's water and beautiful resources are clean, preserved and maintained. Hunting and fishing is a huge part of our economy and heritage here in Midland and Bay counties, and I am excited to work on budgets connected to it.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent you on these matters of vital importance to our families, communities, and the entire state. I will be accessible and responsive to you as our state budget process moves forward.
Annette Glenn lives in Williams Township. She represents the 98th House District, which includes portions of Midland and Bay counties.
New legislative website to provide latest news on reform, public interaction
State Rep. Annette Glenn, of Williams Township, today announced the creation of a special website to keep people informed about the House Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates while giving Michigan drivers a chance to have their voices heard.
The website, www.ReduceMiRatesNow.com, allows anyone to easily offer input that could help shape future legislation.
“The cost of auto insurance is the number one issue my constituents talk to me about. A bipartisan, meaningful fix is needed now,” Glenn said. “Skyrocketing car insurance rates are forcing many Michigan families into making difficult financial decisions. I encourage drivers in Bay and Midland counties to join me to find a solution to the highest average car insurance premiums in the nation.”
The website includes a news tab allowing residents to keep up to date with developments and committee meeting schedules. Ideas submitted by Michigan drivers concerning legislation will go directly to the committee, assuring every submission will be considered.
“You’re overpaying for car insurance, and it’s time your story is heard,” Glenn said. “I am confident everyone can set the politics aside, and get reform across the finish line.”
Glenn also encourages residents to “like” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ReduceMiRatesNow/ to follow the latest news regarding the committee.
By Rep. Annette Glenn
Published in the Midland Daily News
Last November, the people of Bay and Midland counties put their trust in me to represent their interests in Lansing as their new state representative. I respect that, and I want everyone to be able to hold me accountable.
That's why the first piece of legislation I introduced after taking office last month focuses on increasing government transparency.
Michigan is one of just two states that still exempts its governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature from sunshine laws. Because of this exemption, Michigan ranks dead last in at least one study on government transparency and ethics. It's no wonder many residents don't have faith in their state government.
We must do better.
The solution I'm sponsoring will strengthen our system of government as a whole by requiring all elected state officials to become more transparent and accountable to the people. The plan, which was developed in a bipartisan manner, will subject the Legislature to a new Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) and the governor and lieutenant governor to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Under current law, people can request access to most public records from local governments, school districts and state departments through FOIA. It only makes sense for state officials to play by the same rules.
We're all here to serve the public, and the public has the right to monitor what we're doing and keep an eye on the way their hard-earned tax dollars are spent.
Just like some documents containing sensitive personal information are exempt from disclosure by local governments under the current FOIA law, the new LORA will exempt some records, including letters to and from people in the district. This way, people can still contact my office for help regarding personal problems without having to worry about their private information being made public.
A similar plan received unanimous, bipartisan support when it passed the House last year.
Unfortunately, the package died before reaching the governor's desk. Reintroducing the plan early this session illustrates our commitment to making government more transparent and this will be a top priority of mine until this legislation is signed into law.
Approving these much-needed reforms will bring more transparency to everything we do at the Capitol and go a long way toward restoring the public's confidence in their state government.
I respect the people's right to know, and I'm committed to serving with openness and honesty. These reforms will give people throughout Michigan the transparency they deserve.
Annette Glenn is a Republican serving the 98th District of the Michigan House of Representatives.
Judge Dorene Allen, far left, swears in state Rep. Annette Glenn, far right, as Karann Chew looks on Friday at the Midland County Courthouse. (Mitchell Kukulka/For the Daily News)
Every member of the audience in the packed historic courtroom at the Midland County Courthouse was silent as the incumbent state representative removed his official Michigan House of Representatives pin and pinned it on his wife.
Annette Glenn was sworn-in as state representative for the 98th House District by Judge Dorene Allen on Friday.
A Republican, Glenn won the 98th District House seat over her Democratic opponent, Sarah Schulz, in the Nov. 6 general election. Glenn received 20,209 votes to Schulz's 18,629.
Admitting that she is not a lengthy speaker, a tearful Glenn finished her acceptance speech by giving a rendition of the Boy Scout Oath, which she learned as a Cub Scout leader: "I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, enabled by the people."
Glenn described herself as "very blessed" to be able to represent the people of Michigan's 98th House District. She said her immediate goals while in the position will be to improve third-grade reading scores, reforming auto insurance so the district's rates are competitive and continuing to fund skilled trades.
Opening remarks were given by her husband, Gary Glenn, whom she will replace in the 98th District seat. Gary Glenn told the story of how after his diagnosis with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer in January 2016, his wife would drive him to Lansing every week so he would not miss a vote. It was during this time Glenn began to familiarize herself with the work environment of the Legislature.
"She would sit with me during every committee meeting, which means she knows a lot more about the energy issue than your average freshman legislators will," Gary Glenn said. "She sat with me on the floor every single day, and got to know, build relationships with and earn the respect and the affection of members of the Legislature with whom she'll be serving starting in January.
Glenn will be in Lansing on Jan. 9 to take another ceremonial oath along with 109 other Michigan legislators.