Michigan House Republicans
COLUMN: Eliminating citizen oversight panels invites bureaucratic overreach
RELEASE|February 15, 2024
Contact: David Martin

By State Rep. David Martin, R-Davison and David Prestin, R-Cedar River

Unelected bureaucrats far too often wield significant influence in state government, crafting rules and regulations that impact our daily lives.

In Michigan, nowhere is this more apparent than within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (DEGLE), which exerts its authority through a myriad of regulations, impacting everyone from homeowners to business owners.

Recognizing the need for greater citizen involvement and accountability, Michigan took a laudable step forward in 2018 by establishing three citizen oversight boards. These boards were designed to provide a check on bureaucratic power, ensuring that residents and other stakeholders have a voice when it comes to the regulations that affect the way they live, work and do business in Michigan.

The Environmental Rules Review Committee, the Environmental Permit Review Commission, and the Environmental Science Advisory Board were born from the recognition that regulations should not be crafted in a vacuum. Rather, they should reflect the needs and concerns of those they affect most directly.

The rationale behind these oversight boards is clear: to enhance citizen involvement in the rulemaking process and to provide a mechanism for addressing grievances arising from regulatory decisions. By incorporating citizen input into the process, these boards ensure that regulations not only serve their intended purpose but also consider the practical implications for residents and businesses across Michigan.

Feedback from stakeholders directly impacted by DEGLE’s regulations has been largely positive. Many have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to voice their concerns and contribute to the development of regulations that affect their communities. This collaborative approach has fostered a sense of trust and accountability in the regulatory process, which is essential for maintaining public confidence in government decision-making.

However, recent legislative efforts threaten to undermine the progress made in bolstering citizen oversight. Senate Bills 393-394 and House Bills 4824-4826 seek to eliminate these crucial oversight boards, effectively diminishing the avenues for citizen input and transparency in regulatory decision-making.

The implications of such a move are concerning. Without these oversight boards in place, citizens would lose a vital mechanism for holding regulatory agencies accountable. The absence of independent oversight could also lead to decisions that are not in the best interests of the people who live, work and do business in Michigan.

It’s worth noting that these oversight boards were modeled after successful systems in other states, such as Indiana. Their effectiveness in promoting transparency and accountability in regulatory processes cannot be overstated. Eliminating them would represent a step backward for Michigan.

At its core, this issue transcends partisan politics. It’s about upholding the principles of accountability and transparency that are essential for effective governance. By preserving these oversight boards, Michigan can continue to demonstrate its commitment to responsible and inclusive decision-making.

As the debate over this partisan plan continues, we urge our colleagues in the Legislature to prioritize the interests of Michigan residents and local businesses. Upholding citizen oversight is both a matter of good governance and a testament to our collective commitment to ensuring a fair and equitable regulatory landscape for all.


Rep. David Martin, R-Davison, represents the 68th District portions of Genesee and Oakland counties. He is the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. David Prestin, R- Cedar River, represents the 108th District, which includes the Upper Peninsula counties of Delta, Menominee, Schoolcraft, Luce as well as parts of Chippewa, and Mackinac. He also serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.

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