Proposal 1: The Emergency Manager Law

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

Michigan's Emergency Manager Law (P.A. 4) is currently on hold. It was put in place last year, but opponents collected enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot. That means voters will get a chance to decide if Public Act 4 will live or die.

P.A. 4 was put in place so the state can intervene in local municipalities or school districts that are in financial trouble. It gives the governor the power to appoint an emergency manager, who has extensive powers. The appointed agent can terminate contracts, make changes in budgeting, reorganize government to stop the city, township or school district from going into bankruptcy.

"Municipalities like cities and townships and school districts are creatures of the state and if one is tittering on receivership, it can affect the bond ratings of all units of government in the state including state government," said Craig Ruff, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

That's one of the arguments in support of P.A. 4, but Ruff says those against it are also fighting back.

"The Emergency Management Act takes away a lot of the power of democratically elected members of city councils, mayors, elected school boards and it places it in the hands of a person who is not elected by voters," Ruff said.

Voters will be asked to vote 'Yes' or 'No' on the question "should this law be approved?" 'Yes' would keep it in place and a 'No' vote would repeal P.A. 4.


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