Sure, Michigan’s Emergency Manager law has been repealed by a 52 to 48 percent popular vote, but now is not the time to relax.
Just last week, Governor Snyder said he is considering a replacement law to protect communities from bankruptcy — as if the outright suspension of democracy and constitutionally-protected home rule is somehow better than elected officials dealing with a bankruptcy court.
You can bet that state Treasurer Andy Dillon has been working furiously with his legislative writing team to crank-out a morphed version of the progenitor law Public Act -4 ever since the referendum to repeal was approved for the ballot. It’s safe to say he has several draft bills in the hopper for Snyder to peruse. The governor said last year that he would respect the referendum process and refuse to sign an end-run bill to over-write the law, but he now seems to have abandoned his claimed forbearance in the name of dictatorial expediency — showing his lack of respect for the democratic process and the people of Michigan.
Just today, Snyder claimed that it was voter confusion that led to the repeal of the law — his rationale being that voters on the western side of the state are not under threat of emergency managers and therefore would not have opted to repeal — implying they don’t care about democratic process elsewhere in the state. He is ignoring the fact that over 30,000 petition signatures came from Northwest Michigan alone.
They were not confused.
There are five municipalities (Allen Park, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac) and three school districts (Detroit, Highland Park, Muskegon Heights) that this repeal directly and immediately impacts. All but one of them were forced to accept the loss of home rule against their will — Muskegon Heights school district actually asked for a dictator. Additionally, several consent agreements triggered under provisions of PA-4 are now in question in Detroit, Inkster and River Rouge.
Attorney General Bill Shuette has been asserting all along that the old Emergency Financial Manager law, PA-72 of 1990, which PA-4 supplanted and repealed, is now in affect again. That argument is going to keep the courts busy for a while.
As you read this, you can be sure that the Michigan Governor, Treasurer and Attorney General are fine-tuning their lame-duck replacement bill and tapping some clueless minion lawmaker to introduce it — a stuffed-shirt who hasn’t even read it and wouldn’t understand the big words anyhow.
Snyder, Dillon and Schuette, if nothing else, are not stupid — they probably view the Michigan House as something akin to an amusing ant farm.
We are not amused.
Amy Kerr Hardin