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Legislature To Affect Local Goverment Draws Debate

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LANSING (WWJ) - In a vote along mostly party lines, the state House approved a measure Thursday that critics say allows local governments that are consolidating services to save money, to also eliminate some guarantees and provisions of collectively bargained contracts.

Ahead of the vote, Detroit Democrat Alberta Tinsley-Talabi said the bill would send a bad message.

“The passage of these bills will send a clear message to those that work for government, that Michigan does not care about the contributions you have made, and what promises were given. I wonder how many people will want to continue living in a state that says, ‘if your city joins hands with another city they get to do what they want with your benefits, tough luck for you,’” Tinsley-Talabi said.

Not everyone is against the legislation. Republican Paul Opsomner said the move is necessary because the existing law is outdated.

“The Urban Cooperation Act was written in 1968. It was perhaps, a good business model at the time. However, it’s obviously broken,” Opsomner said. “How do we know that? We’ve laid off over 2,000 police officers in the state of Michigan. We’ve laid off more than 2,000 fire fighters in the state of Michigan.”

Opsomner is encouraging law makers to pass the bill on the heels of Governor Rick Snyder’s push to reinvent the state.

“Do you have the guts to stand up and reinvent Michigan like our Governor has asked us to do? Do you have the guts to actually lead Michigan forward and not backwards? And do we have the guts to help local units of government stabilize,” Opsomner asked.

The legislation now goes to the state Senate for approval.

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