HOUSE BILL NO. 4872
August 29, 2019, Introduced by Reps. Shannon,
Rabhi, LaGrand, Lasinski, Coleman, Sowerby, Brixie, Sabo, Ellison,
Clemente, Liberati, Sneller, Kennedy, Haadsma, Kuppa, Witwer, Cherry,
Stone, Pagan, Cynthia Johnson, Wittenberg, Greig, Hood, Manoogian, Tyrone
Carter, Elder, Hoadley, Chirkun, Tate, Hammoud, Camilleri, Anthony, Warren,
Cambensy, Hertel, Whitsett and Love and referred to the Committee on Commerce
August 29, 2019, Introduced by Reps. Shannon, Rabhi, LaGrand, Lasinski, Coleman, Sowerby, Brixie, Sabo, Ellison, Clemente, Liberati, Sneller, Kennedy, Haadsma, Kuppa, Witwer, Cherry, Stone, Pagan, Cynthia Johnson, Wittenberg, Greig, Hood, Manoogian, Tyrone Carter, Elder, Hoadley, Chirkun, Tate, Hammoud, Camilleri, Anthony, Warren, Cambensy, Hertel, Whitsett and Love and referred to the Committee on Commerce and Tourism.
the people of the state of michigan enact:
(a) "Administrative act" includes an action, omission, decision, recommendation, practice, or other procedure of a state department or agency.
(b) "Complainant" means an individual who submits a complaint to the ombudsman under this act.
(c) "Council" means the legislative council provided for in section 15 of article IV of the state constitution of 1963 and created in section 103 of the legislative council act, 1986 PA 268, MCL 4.1103.
(d) "Office" means the office of the state employee ombudsman created in section 3.
(e) "Ombudsman" means the state employee ombudsman appointed under section 3.
(f) "Person" means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, governmental entity, or other legal entity.
(g) "State department or agency" means a state department or other agency within the executive branch.
(h) "State employee" means a full-time or part-time employee of a state department or agency.
(2) The principal executive officer of the office is the state employee ombudsman, who must be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the council.
(2) Subject to approval of the council, the ombudsman shall establish procedures for receiving and processing complaints, conducting investigations, holding hearings, and reporting the findings resulting from investigations.
Sec. 6. (1) Upon request, the ombudsman must be given access to all information, records, and documents in the possession of a state department or agency that the ombudsman considers necessary in an investigation, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(a) Violations or suspected violations of law.
(b) Conduct by a state department or agency that will, or is substantially likely to, endanger public health or safety.
(c) Gross mismanagement or waste of public funds.
(2) The ombudsman may hold informal hearings and may request that any individual appear before the ombudsman or at a hearing and give testimony or produce documentary or other evidence that the ombudsman considers relevant to an investigation.
Sec. 7. (1) The ombudsman shall advise a complainant to pursue all administrative remedies open to the complainant. Upon request from the ombudsman, a state department or agency shall provide a progress report concerning the administrative processing of a complaint submitted to the state department or agency. After the state department or agency takes administrative action on a complaint, the ombudsman may conduct further investigation at the request of a complainant or on his or her own initiative.
(2) The ombudsman is not required to conduct an investigation on a complaint brought before the ombudsman. A complainant is not entitled to have an investigation conducted by the ombudsman.
Sec. 8. Upon receiving a complaint under this act and deciding to investigate the complaint, the ombudsman shall notify the complainant and the state department or agency. If the ombudsman declines to investigate, the ombudsman shall notify the complainant, in writing, of the reasons for the ombudsman's decision.
Sec. 9. Upon request of the ombudsman, the council may hold a hearing. The council may administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and examine the books and records of the state department or agency that is or was a proper subject of investigation by the ombudsman.
Sec. 10. (1) Subject to subsection (2), correspondence between the office and a complainant is confidential, is privileged communication, and is exempt from disclosure under the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246.
(2) The office shall maintain confidentiality regarding all matters under investigation and the identities of the complainants or persons from whom information is acquired, unless disclosure is necessary to enable the ombudsman to perform the duties of the office or to support any recommendations resulting from an investigation.
Sec. 11. (1) Within 30 days after completing the investigation, the ombudsman shall prepare and provide to the complainant a resolution report that details the findings of the investigation, the recommendations of the ombudsman, and any actions that have been taken to address the complainant's concerns. The ombudsman may request that a state department or agency notify the ombudsman within a specified time of any action taken on any recommendation presented. The ombudsman shall notify the complainant of the actions a state department or agency takes to address the complaint.
(2) In addition to the report prepared under subsection (1), within 30 days after completing an investigation, the ombudsman shall prepare and submit a report of its findings to the council. The report must include recommendations if the ombudsman finds any of the following:
(a) Conduct that will or is substantially likely to endanger public health or safety.
(b) A violation or a suspected violation of law.
(c) The gross mismanagement or waste of public funds.
(d) A matter that the state department or agency should consider.
(e) An administrative act that should be modified or canceled.
(f) A statute or rule that should be altered.
(g) An administrative act for which justification is necessary.
(h) Any other significant concern as determined by the ombudsman.
(3) Subject to section 12, the council may forward the report prepared and submitted under subsection (2) to the state department or agency and the complainant who requested the report.
(4) A report prepared and recommendations made by the ombudsman and submitted to the council under subsection (2) are exempt from disclosure under the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246.
Sec. 12. Before announcing to the general public a conclusion or recommendation that expressly or by implication criticizes a state department or agency, the ombudsman shall consult with the state department or agency. If the ombudsman publishes an opinion adverse to a state department or agency, the ombudsman shall include in that publication a statement of reasonable length made to the ombudsman by the state department or agency in defense or mitigation of the finding if that statement is provided within a reasonable time as determined by the council.
(2) The ombudsman shall annually post on its website a report that contains all of the following:
(a) The number of complaints received.
(b) The number of complaints investigated.
(c) The number of complaints resolved.
(d) The nature of each incident that was the basis for the complaint. However, personal identifying information must not be included.
(e) The average time from the receipt of a complaint until a resolution report is provided under section 11(1).
(f) The percentage of repeat complaints.
(g) Satisfaction feedback.
(h) Any additional information the council requests to be included in the annual report or the ombudsman considers relevant.
Sec. 14. (1) A state department or agency shall not penalize in any way a complainant for filing a complaint, providing information to the council or a legislator, or cooperating with the ombudsman in investigating a complaint.
(2) A state department or agency or any person shall not hinder the lawful actions of the ombudsman or employees of the office or willfully refuse to comply with any lawful demand of the office.
Sec. 15. The authority granted to the ombudsman under this act is in addition to other authority granted by law to any other office or agency relative to a remedy or right of appeal or objection for a complainant, or any procedure provided for the inquiry into, or investigation of, any matter. The authority granted to the ombudsman under this act does not limit or affect any other remedy or right of appeal or objection provided by law and must not be considered to be exclusionary.