LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan’s law giving more power to state-appointed emergency managers says it’s submitting more than 218,000 voter signatures in hopes of eventually overturning the law. The Stand Up for Democracy coalition turned in petitions to state election officials on Wednesday.
Roughly 161,300 valid voter signatures are needed to temporarily suspend the law and get it on the November ballot. It could take two months for state officials to verify the signatures, certifying that enough names were in fact collected. Then, the law would go on hold until the voters decide.
“However, and there’s always a ‘however’ in politics, legal challenges could tie up that hold until the courts decide if all of this is on the up and up,” said WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.
According to Skubick, Gov. Rick Snyder has indicated that if that happens, and law goes on hold, he would go back to the legislature and ask them to adopt certain elements of the EM law to keep cities and school districts from going into bankruptcy.
As enacted, this new state law allows the governor to take over a local government or school district by appointing an emergency manager to assume the authority and responsibility of locally elected officials. It includes the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements and even dissolve a unit of government.
Critics say the law gives unconstitutional power to state-appointed emergency managers, who have authority to toss out union contracts and strip power from locally elected officials.
Monica Lewis-Patrick from “We The People of Detroit” was among dozens of volunteers who are delivering the signatures by bus to the State Capitol.
“What I would say to anybody who doesn’t understand this issue … It is critical that we participate in voting. It is critical that we participate in educating ourselves on the issues because we are under an attack from every side,” Lewis-Patrick said.
Supporters of the law say it’s needed to provide the tools to fix financial problems that locally elected leaders have been unable to fix themselves.