LANSING (WWJ) – Governor Rick Snyder is asking the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately consider a challenge to a law that gives broad powers to the state’s Emergency Managers.
Tova Perlmutter is the Executive Director of the Sugar Law Center, which is challenging the law. The center claims the law unconstitutional and strips citizens of their voting rights.
“Rushing to the Supreme Court means bypassing important procedures that exist for a reason. The trial court and appeals court levels, but particularly the trial court in our system, have a set of procedures and capacity to look at the facts of the matter.”
Perlmutter said that doesn’t happen at the high level courts.
“Evidently, the passage of this law involves a perspective and a philosophy that says that fair process doesn’t matter, input from all stake-holders doesn’t matter, decisions are better if they are simple and fast.”
Perlmutter called Gov. Snyder’s actions to speed up a challenge to the law a “simple mistrust” of democracy.
Sugar Law represents 28 plaintiffs from throughout Michigan who filed suit against Michigan Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager law, in Ingham County Circuit Court on June 22. Last Friday, Gov. Snyder filed an “executive message” with the Supreme Court asking that the case be certified to go directly to the Supreme Court.
Appointed by the state to take control of struggling municipalities and school districts, Emergency Managers could modify or end union contracts, order elections to raise or extend property taxes, or take a host of other actions. A manager could also recommend that local governments consolidate and, with the Gov.’s approval, could dissolve a municipal government.
The citizens’ lawsuit says the emergency manager law violates the Michigan Constitution by:
- Suspending home rule, by giving managers power to repeal local laws, ordinances, charters and contracts
- Effectively eliminating citizens’ rights to vote for and petition local government on matters of local concern
- Violating the separation of powers, by allowing the executive branch and its agencies to exercise legislative duties
- Allowing the Legislature to enact unfunded mandates, by using local taxpayer dollars for such purposes as managers’ salaries and staff
Snyder said the law lets the state offer help earlier when governments are in financial distress, instead of having to wait until they are on the brink of bankruptcy.
WWJ Newsradio has obtained copies of three documents filed in the case. Click below to open the PDF files.