LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-controlled Michigan House on Wednesday approved a replacement for an emergency manager law struck down by voters in the November election, despite Democratic complaints that it doesn't differ significantly from the law voters rejected and would still subvert local control.
The House passed the bill on a 63-46 vote after rejecting numerous Democratic amendments and sent it to the Senate. Gov. Rick Snyder has endorsed the proposal.
The previous law empowered the governor to appoint managers with broad powers to overrule elected leaders of financially struggling cities and school districts and throw out contracts with employee unions.
A new version proposed by Snyder and GOP legislative leaders gives four options to communities in dire financial straits: accepting an emergency manager; undergoing bankruptcy; going through mediation; and entering a consent agreement similar to an existing one between the state and Detroit.
Rochester Hills Republican Rep. Tom McMillin said the legislation is needed for local governments "that refuse to deal with their spending problems." He said Pontiac has become a safer place because of an emergency manager who "came in and started to make adult decisions."
"This bill respects the will of the voters and protects our communities from financial disaster," said Rep. Al Pscholka, a Republican from Stevensville. "The goal is ... to get things back on track, restore fiscal integrity and restore local control. It's about local choice and fiscal accountability."
Rep. Maureen Stapleton, a Detroit Democrat, said the new bill is essentially the same as the rejected law and merely offers local governments an opportunity to "pick their poison."
"This is yet another slap in the face of democracy perpetrated by this body," said Tim Greimel, the incoming House Democratic leader. He said emergency managers don't improve quality of life or economic vitality of ailing cities.
Opponents contended the measure was being rushed to enactment like right-to-work legislation that also reduces union strength, which was introduced and enacted within a week. But opponents noted that the emergency manager bill was considered during a committee hearing this month.
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