Whitmer signs bill adding Republican members to economic development board ⋆
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed legislation adding more seats to the Michigan Strategic Fund Board to represent the Michigan House, Senate and other state agencies.
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approves taxpayer incentives for economic development projects and directs funding for business development, community development, talent enhancement and state marketing activities.
In recent years, the Legislature has approved big economic development spending packages, including $630 million for a new Ford electric vehicle plant near Marshall, which Whitmer signed in March. Many Republicans were critical of that deal, as well as $175 million for a Gotion plant near Big Rapids, as they’ve argued Michigan shouldn’t give incentives to companies connected to the country.
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The newly signed House Bill 4219, introduced by House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) would increase board representation for the political minority in each chamber of the Legislature. While the board already includes appointees recommended by the House and Senate majority leaders, the House minority leader and the Senate minority leader will each submit three names for appointment to the board, with one candidate selected from each pool of nominees.
“Michiganders deserve a thorough, transparent review of projects before their tax dollars are spent, and my plan will add new voices to the table to help protect Michigan taxpayers and use resources wisely,” Hall said in a statement.
Under the current Democratic-led Legislature, House and Senate Republicans will gain representation on the board. The Governor will have until Dec. 31 to appoint new board members from candidates nominated by House and Senate Republicans.
“Adding members appointed by the Republican caucuses to the Michigan Strategic Fund Board will bring a greater level of accountability, transparency, and bipartisan oversight to Michigan’s economic development plans into the future,” Hall said.
The bill received bipartisan support prior to reaching the governor’s desk, passing the House in a 93-7 vote and the Senate in a vote of 29-9. According to Hall, the bipartisan success of the bill is part of a deal negotiated by House Republicans earlier this year.
The bill also writes changes from Executive Reorganization Order 2019-03 into state law by requiring directors of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) or their designees to serve on the board. It also requires board members to be Michigan residents, establishes four-year term limits, requires the board’s president to serve as its chairperson and allows board members to elect a vice chair from their fellow members.
According to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, the bill also prohibits the LEO director from serving as president of the board.
Amending the structure of the Michigan Strategic Fund Board will give Michigan “the best opportunity to continue winning economic development projects and growing our economy,” Whitmer said in a statement.
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authored by Kyle Davidson
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