Dear Rep. Ouimet,
I am appalled by the content of HB 4214, which allows the governor to dismiss the elected officials of a “municipal government” if that government is deemed to be in financial distress. As your constituent, I trust you will make strenuous efforts to prevent this bill from being passed. I am aware the bill has been passed in some form by both the House and Senate, but you can still act as the two versions of the bill are being reconciled.
Areas of concern with this bill:
- It allows a small group of people – or even individuals or corporations – to dismiss the rightfully-elected government of a municipality or school board and disincorporate municipalities. This is against the very principles of democracy.
- It allows the state to arbitrarily negate contracts. How can businesses have any confidence in the fidelity of their contracts with municipalities in this situation?
- It states that the financial emergency will be considered “over” only when the emergency manager says it’s over. There are essentially no checks or balances against the power of this unelected official.
I am especially concerned by the way the bill repeatedly reserves powers to individuals to make decisions at their “sole discretion”, for example, Sec 12(1)r, which allows the state treasurer to singlehandedly decide a municipal government is in financial stress, and begin the review process. If there is no way to stop this bill completely – and let me be clear, that is the ONLY democratic outcome – then please, at least make sure these instances of “catch-all” powers are taken away from individuals. Statements such as Sec19(1)ee stating that the appointed emergency manager may “Take any other action or exercise any power or authority of any officer, employee, department, board, commission, or other similar entity of the local government, whether elected or appointed, relating to the operation of the local government” are FAR too sweeping. I refuse to give over powers like these to one person, appointed by the governor, who is directly responsible to no voter.
The Tenth Amendment of Constitution of the United States rightly enumerates certain powers, and leaves all others not named to the states or the people. Our State should follow that admirable example and write its own laws to enumerate when it may act, and clearly define when that action shall end. It should NOT be writing legislation that includes lines to the effect of “the state, or an individual, or a corporation shall have power in these specific circumstances…or whenever we so please, for as long as we see fit” especially when those powers are so drastic.
Please don’t let this HB 4214 become law.