Last week, Democracy Tree broke the story on the Michigan Emergency Manager Law’s immunity from civil liabilities — individuals acting under the aegis of the law are shielded from personal lawsuits, even if they cause grave harm — as long as they are operating within the parameters of their duties. Most notably, Michigan and the nation have been aghast at the poisoning of an entire city under emergency management. An additional insult to communities is that they are currently obligated to pay for any and all litigation that may occur in spite of the legal immunity. By law, the state is required to deduct these costs from the revenue sharing of the already fiscally distressed public body.
Not if one Republican lawmaker has his way.
Today we learn that a legislative remedy has been introduced by Rep. Peter Lucido (R-36). House Bills 5209 and 5210 would strip emergency managers of their immunity, and would provide at least some modicum of accountability through tort law. The proposal additionally requires an emergency manager to post a $5 million bond, which must be forfeited in the case of “gross negligence” or “willful and wanton misconduct”, causing the emergency manager to become personally responsible for all damages, instead of the tax paying public.
Excerpt from the HB 5209:
AN EMERGENCY MANAGER APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR UNDER SECTION 9 SHALL POST A SUITABLE BOND OF NOT LESS THAN $5,000,000.00, ISSUED BY A RESPONSIBLE BONDING ENTITY, FOR THE FAITHFUL PERFORMANCE OF THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE. AN EMERGENCY MANAGER FORFEITS THE BOND IF HIS OR HER CONDUCT AS AN EMERGENCY MANAGER AMOUNTS TO GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR IS WILLFUL AND WANTON MISCONDUCT, AND THE EMERGENCY MANAGER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL DAMAGES, EXPENSES, AND COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THAT GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR WILLFUL AND WANTON MISCONDUCT.
Another GOP proposal, with bipartisan support, was introduced in the House to make legislators subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Rep. John Bizon (R-62) offered HB 5216, a bill that will kick open the door on one of the least transparent government bodies in the nation.
And something from the Dems:
Flint lawmaker Rep. Phil Phelps (D-49) announced plans to introduce legislation making it a felony for state employees to manipulate data — based on concerns that there may have been willful malfeasance in the Flint water disaster.
Sensible bills? Bipartisan cooperation? Pinch me.