Rep. Jeff Yaroch today called on Gov. Whitmer to stop obstructing his efforts to require business ethics and customer service training for employees of a key state government department.
Yaroch’s plan would have required two hours of customer service and business ethics training for all Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs employees – with the training to be completed by November. But Whitmer rejected the training requirement when she signed the measures implementing the new state budget.
Yaroch said he will continue to fight bad behavior and poor customer service in state government.
“This training would be done by now if our governor cared about ethics and the service our state employees provide our citizens,” said Yaroch, of Richmond. “Why would the governor go out of her way to prevent transparency and block efforts to improve state government? I believe you lead by example, and her action sends a message to state employees that ethics and customer service is not a priority of her administration.”
Yaroch chairs a House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing LARA, the state department tasked with regulating a wide variety of Michigan businesses and occupations, including nursing homes. Yaroch began seeking the ethics training requirement after LARA officials were not forthcoming about how the policy placing COVID-positive patients in nursing homes was developed early in the pandemic.
During committee testimony in 2021, the director of LARA’s Bureau of Community Health Systems failed to be honest about his knowledge of the governor’s plans for nursing homes that were in place in mid-2020. Yaroch later discovered based on testimony from the Long Term Care Ombudsman that the director chaired a congregate care facilities advisory work group, which met in May and June of 2020.
Yaroch also has been sharply critical of LARA Director Orlene Hawks for her being complicit in this issue.
“This information was needed to help make sure the state would have better policies moving forward — one must ask what is our governor hiding if she stands behind state employees who don’t provide honest answers,” Yaroch said. “How do we trust that LARA will protect our most vulnerable citizens when we cannot trust them to be honest with the Legislature?”
Yaroch has successfully fought for other reforms to improve LARA. He initiated new laws that will require LARA to inform state lawmakers about what inspectors are discovering inside the state’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Specifically, the reports – due twice each year – must contain feedback from inspectors about the adequacy and effectiveness of state and federal regulations.