MLive to Start MichiganVotes-Style System

Media group to begin tracking legislative action

Welcome to the club, MLive.

The statewide, online media entity on Monday said it would run a weekly feature for its Saginaw News and Bay City Times readers on votes by mid-Michigan legislators using information supplied by MichiganVotes.org.

On Wednesday, MLive informed the Mackinac Center that it instead would be starting a statewide bill and vote tracking service of its own. To that we say "congratulations." The Mackinac Center has long been a proponent of transparency and open government, and the more organizations working to keep Michiganders informed of what the state Legislature does and how it spends your money is a welcome and positive development.

As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

MichiganVotes was established in 2001 to provide objective, plain-English descriptions of bills and votes, and do it for every roll call vote taken in the Michigan House and Senate, including bills, amendments and resolutions.

MichiganVotes recently celebrated the description of its 25,000th bill. The service is searchable and sortable by legislator, category, keyword and more. It receives a large amount of media attention at the end of every year for its "missed votes" tally. When the service began a dozen years ago, legislators missed more than 21,000 votes. In 2012, that number had fallen to about 2,200.

"When we started MichiganVotes, we envisioned giving citizen activists information to help them have more influence in the legislative process," said Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst and MichiganVotes editor. "We realized what it really provides is accountability."