New Michigan law retains emergency financial managers
A new version of a controversial emergency manager law goes into effect in Michigan this year — despite the fact that voters rejected a similar measure during the November elections. The new law allows the state to appoint a financial manager to oversee troubled communities and school districts but gives those communities more options, according to The Huffington Post.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the measure that was passed during an unusually active lame-duck session of the state legislature. It replaces Public Act 4, which was struck down in a state referendum.
The revised bill allows financially troubled communities several options. They can choose an emergency manager, go into bankruptcy, consent to mediation or sign a consent agreement with the state.
Part of the bill prevents voters from challenging it in a referendum, ensuring it against the fate of the previous law. The new measure also leaves current emergency financial managers in place with the authority to overrule local elected officials and modify or terminate contracts.
The new law still gives emergency managers special powers. However, local elected officials now can request the governor to dismiss the managers within a year and local governing bodies can remove managers with a two-thirds vote.
Snyder said the new provisions “recognize the vital importance of financially stable, economically vibrant communities to Michigan’s future.” The legislation “demonstrates that we clearly heard, recognized and respected the will of the voters,” Snyder said in a statement.
Critics said the revised law did not offer viable options different from the previous measure that voters rejected. “(If) the citizens reject an issue at the ballot box and then one month later the governor goes and re-signs the same legislation, I think there are going to be a lot of voters who take that as disrespectful,” Democratic state representative Jeff Irwin told The Michigan Daily.