LANSING, MI — State Sen. Jim Runestad on Wednesday proposed two amendments to guard against corruption as part of legislation passed by Senate Democrats answering the governor’s call to create a prescription drug board.
“Cronyism, political payback, and outright corruption have no place on this newly created board, and the commonsense, ethical measures I put forward would provide safeguards that should have easily earned support from all sides of the aisle,” said Runestad, R-White Lake.
Runestad offered two amendments to legislation that would establish a prescription drug board, which would be made up of members appointed by the governor.
His first amendment, adopted as part of the package, would prohibit board members from lobbying during and after their terms of service.
“Controlling prices on prescription drugs — or anything, for that matter — means holding a lot of power, and we know lobbyists are willing to pay a lot of money for power like that,” Runestad said. “My amendment would guarantee these board members are putting people first — not lobbyists.”
Runestad’s second amendment — struck down by Democrats along party lines — would have banned appointments for anyone who had made political contributions to the person who appointed them.
“Essentially, this means that a governor could not provide payback to a donor in the form of a powerful position to oversee prescription drug prices,” Runestad said. “Why would anyone be opposed to this? Why would someone oppose political transparency and accountability? Appointments should be based on the merit, not who writes the biggest checks.”
In September, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed a longtime donor to lead the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The new director has been a longtime donor to Whitmer’s campaign, including a $50,000 donation in 2021 that superseded limits put in place by campaign finance laws.
Runestad voted against the final bill package to establish the prescription drug board.
“At the end of the day — and we know from the handful of left-leaning states where these measures have already been enacted — this legislation will not benefit patients, but more likely result in fewer available prescription drugs on the market in Michigan. The Legislature should not be in the business of creating more tools for cronyism and political payback for the governor at the expense of Michigan taxpayers,” Runestad said.