Michigan Senate OKs new emergency manager law

LANSING, Mich. - Critics of the new emergency manager law say it should never have been pushed through the legislature because it's too similar to what voters rejected in November.

"It's a real slap in the face to the voters in our state who just one month ago rejected Public Act 4," said House Democratic Leader-Elect Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills).  He said the two laws are almost identical and lawmakers needed more time examining the new law.

"We need a new approach here. An approach that encourages collaboration between experts that are appointed from Lansing and local elected officials, and unfortunately, this bill doesn't do that," said Greimel.

Supporters of the new law like State Representative Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville) who sponsored Public Act 4, said they went back to the drawing board and came up with this new improved version with several changes.

"Most notably, the amount of control and the new options that local elected officials will have. They now will have a choice, they have four options," said State Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville).

The law now gives distressed cities or schools in a financial emergency four options;  to choose a consent agreement, mediation which is like arbitration, an emergency manager or Chapter 9 Bankruptcy.

"People wanted leadership and they wanted us to do a better job creating a bill that works and we've done that with this particular piece of legislation," said Pscholka.

The new law, also makes the state, not the entity under financial distress, pay for the salary of emergency manager. That appropriation tied to the bill prevents voters from putting the issue on the ballot as a referendum.  There is still that controversial issue in the new law which is that the emergency manager can break union contracts.

If a local government chooses the option of emergency manager they also will have the option of removing that emergency manager after one year but only with a two-thirds vote of its governing body.

The bill now goes to the governor's desk to be signed into law. The law would take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.

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