McBroom gets involved with important issues

It didn’t take Ed McBroom very long to get involved with substantive matters that are important, we believe, to many in the state, namely transparency in public bodies doing the public’s business with public dollars.

McBroom is sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution E, which would open to the public all meetings of public universities under the Open Meetings Act.

Currently, such panels are required only to open for self-determined formal sessions.

Testimony on the proposal was taken in Lansing last week.

A former state representative, McBroom returned to the state Legislature in January as a senator, replacing Tom Casperson, who was term-limited out of office.

“Increasingly, university boards are conducting business, and making financial and other serious decisions, behind closed doors during so-called informal sessions,” McBroom, R-Vulcan, said in a news release. “As public bodies, many of whom are elected, these boards, which receive and spend taxpayers’ dollars, should be required to comply with Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

“This resolution would increase transparency and accountability so students, parents and taxpayers can see decisions being made by those running these public institutions. These are the same principles our schools, towns, community colleges and the Legislature operate under.”

Northern Michigan University issued a statement in support of McBroom’s effort, through chief marketing officer Derek Hall.

“The NMU Board of Trustees remains committed to transparency. Our formal meetings are always open to the public and all materials associated are posted online to be accessible to the public as required by law.

“We were pleased to hear Senator McBroom say he wants to have an on-going dialogue with Michigan’s universities as this legislative process moves forward.”

A Mining Journal story on the issue stated that If Senate Joint Resolution E is approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Legislature, the question would be presented to Michigan voters at the next general election for approval to amend Article 8, Section 4 of the Michigan Constitution.

This is your basic no brainer. If public dollars are on the table, the people paying the freight — the public — should have an opportunity to participate in the process. It’s not more complicated than that.