Letter to Rep. Mark Ouiment re: HB 4214

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

Sincerely,

Emily Springfield

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5 Comments

  1. aimee said,

    March 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I am totally appalled at the content of this bill. It’s hard to believe. Thank you for doing your utmost to oppose it., Good luck!

  2. Alexia said,

    March 12, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Good for taking the first steps, Emily. Thanks for posting this. I appreciate you taking part in the struggle to oppose this power grab that’s affecting both of our states, and will probably affect many others as well soon (especially if the bills enacted manage to stand). More power to you and all your fellow Michiganders!

  3. Minerva said,

    March 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    ROFL. This is an ignorant scare made by political hacks. This is not ‘new’. Michigan had laws on the books like this longer than many protesting have been alive.

    Learn to read/research bills and you won’t look so ignorant.

  4. Minerva said,

    March 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Here’s one example … from 20 years ago. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-act-72-of-1990.pdf

    • Emily said,

      March 18, 2011 at 9:16 am

      This is very interesting. Thank you for the link. So it appears that the main differences in the two bills are that the 1990 version provides for the establishment of an emergency manager in well-delineated circumstances, whereas the 2011 version adds in sections like Section 12(1)r that allow these powers to be exercised at the *sole discretion* of the state treasurer.

      So essentially, the part of the bill that might have any redeeming value was written in 1990; the parts that give massive powers to appointed individuals are new.

      And frankly, I don’t care if the bill was passed in this form a hundred years ago; it is not fit legislation for a democracy or republic.


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