By Michael Webber
9th Senate District
As government grows, we must be vigilant about transparency and accountability.
Frankly, I don’t think it is a good idea to increase the size, scope, and power of the bureaucracy but that seems to be the direction we are being taken. Yet the Democrats who currently hold the levers of power in state government seem determined on creating more regulations, taxes, and government interference in private business.
Earlier this year, in a partisan vote, Democrats passed a bill in the state Senate to repeal a law I voted for when I served in the House — and former Gov. Rick Snyder signed — that states Michigan bureaucrats could not impose regulations that would be greater than the federal regulations, except in the case of emergencies or special exceptions.
I might have been born in California, but I was raised in Michigan and I do not want to see my home turned into a Midwest version of an over-regulated and over-taxed business environment.
During the Snyder years, we listened to small and independent business owners, and we reduced or eliminated redundant, unnecessary and costly regulations. As a result, Michigan climbed out of the “Lost Decade” and found hope in a growing economy. Now, Democrats seek to impose more regulations and rules on small businesses and reverse course.
Currently, there is a process to bring those rules before elected officials, but I have no confidence the Democrats will use this rarely tapped oversight tool. Instead, it appears they would prefer to negotiate in the dark and in ways that empower unelected and unaccountable Lansing bureaucrats to make and enforce many of the rules, regulations, and policies that businesses must follow.
The problem with a government making rules, regulations and policies in the darkness of bureaucracy, is that the “little guy” is at a massive disadvantage. Small businesses often can’t afford the lobbyists, lawyers, and departments to sift through the regulations and to advocate for them. However, these local owners often have a contact to their state representative or senator.
That is why I have put forward a solution. My proposed Senate Joint Resolution C is a constitutional amendment stating that any rule, regulation, or policy that will have an impact of $1 million or more in five years would have to be voted on by the legislature.
If policymakers seek more actions that will be detrimental to business, they should be required to put their name behind it. We cannot allow the expansion of government to go unchecked and be unaccountable to the people, from whom government derives its power.
Those who wish to make Michigan into an anti-business, anti-growth state must be willing to disclose their desires to their constituents. Our government is built on three equal branches and the branch most accessible and accountable to the people is the Legislature.
It is incumbent upon us to do our job, accountable to the people of Michigan who vote to send us to Lansing or send us home.
This op-ed appeared in Bridge Michigan on Set. 13, 2023.