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Amendment would create a constitutional oversight panel

A close-range three-quarter candid portrait of McBroom, who is wearing a dark gray pinstripe suit and blue tie with white polka dots
David Eggert/AP
/
AP
State Senator Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, speaks at the Capitol in Lansing in May 2019

Supporters say the proposal would take partisanship out of lawmakers' supervision of government agencies.

A proposed amendment to the Michigan constitution seeks to scrub partisan politics from the Legislature’s oversight of state government agencies. The amendment would create a joint House and Senate oversight committee.

Republican Senator Ed McBroom is one of the sponsors. He told the Michigan Public Radio Network that term limits and the frequent shifts in partisan power in Lansing make this a vital government reform.

“How do we make oversight in general something that’s just a standard practice that’s not whipsawed back and forth by the partisan nature of changing parties of power in the Legislature, changing of parties in power in the governor’s office,” he said.

McBroom said bipartisan oversight panels have been identified as a government best practice in multiple studies. Under the resolution, an eight-lawmaker panel would be evenly divided between House and Senate members and Republicans and Democrats with a rotating chair.

“It makes it so that both sides have to work together,” said Democratic Senator Jeff Irwin, one of the resolution’s sponsors. “If one side wants to use it just as a partisan tool, well they have to give up the gavel in a few months.”

The amendment would have to be adopted by super-majorities of the House and the Senate to put it on the November ballot, and then voters would decide whether to make it part of the state constitution.