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Emergency Manager Opponents Get Enough Signatures For Ballot Initiative

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(credit: istock)

(credit: istock)

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Opponents of the state’s emergency manager law have gathered enough signatures to put a repeal measure on the November ballot.

The finding by state elections staff could put into limbo seven emergency managers overseeing the Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights school systems and the communities of Pontiac, Flint, Ecorse and Benton Harbor.

The State Board of Canvassers is set to vote Thursday on whether the issue will go on the ballot. If it does, the law will be suspended immediately.

Elections staff say the Stand Up for Democracy coalition collected 203,238 valid voter signatures, about 40,000 more than needed.

A group called Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility is challenging the petitions, saying they’re not legal because the heading is printed in a type size that’s smaller than required.

“Now, that may sound like a tecnhicality, but the oponents are hanging their hat on this legal hook, hoping that the Board of Canvassers will say no,” said WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.

“But if there is a 2-2 tie vote tomorrow, which we anticipate, this will likely end up in the courts. So, likely, the Supreme Court will finally decide will people get to decide the fate of the emergency manager law in November?”

As enacted, the state’s new emergency manager 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.

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.

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(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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