LANSING (WWJ) – As many as 150 protesters say they intend to stay inside the State Capitol all night if necessary.
Lance Eberle, a laid off teacher said he’s leading a group who intend to set up camp in the Rotunda to protest the Emergency Financial Manager bill which passed the Michigan House.
“It’s not a Republican, it’s not a Democrat, it’s not a liberal, it’s not a conservative thing. This is a direct assault on democracy and the American way of life. This bill allows for our elected officials to be removed from us, regardless of political party,” Eberle told WWJ.
Emergency financial managers appointed by the state to run struggling cities and schools would have broad new powers under the legislation.
The main bill in the package was approved Tuesday by a 62-48 vote in the Republican-led chamber. The Senate has passed the bill, which now goes to Governor Rick Snyder for signature.
Snyder has made it clear that he approves of the bill, calling for the changes during his State of the State address.
Supporters say the legislation would lead to earlier intervention in troubled cities and schools with the hopes of avoiding the appointment of an emergency manager.
Managers who are appointed would have the power to terminate union contracts held by school teachers and local government employees. Local elected officials would lose some of their powers.
Unions, and protestors like Eberle, say the measure is an assault on collective bargaining rights.
“To go in there and revamp it and make a direct assault on labor unions, on the democrats core values of elections and elected officials — that’s un-American. And, as a history teacher I can tell you, it resonates of late-1930’s Germany,” Eberle said.
Eberle said he and the others are prepared to be arrested. The Capitol building closes to the public at 5:30 p.m.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.