The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.

The Michigan Governor’s New Powers


As a Michigan native, I’ve watched my home state slowly deteriorate through a combination of unwise policies and over-dependence on a single, declining industry. So I noticed with interest a new Michigan law upgrading the 1990 Emergency Financial Manager Act. The new law, signed this week by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, empowers the Michigan state government in Lansing to take over important parts of local government functions in cases where localities’ finances are mismanaged. Here is the account from the Detroit News:

The legislation that grants emergency financial managers — now called emergency managers — authority to toss out union contracts and dissolve elected governing bodies in school districts and communities operating at a deficit. The governor would appoint new managers only after a list of benchmarks are met and the state treasurer has agreed there is a financial crisis.

All of those new powers went into effect Wednesday when the bill was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, with one exception. Emergency managers such as Detroit Public Schools’ Robert Bobb and those in Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Ecorse will wait 60 days to gain the powers to modify or eliminate collective bargaining agreements. Those newly appointed will have all their powers immediately.

The delay “gives the bargaining units an opportunity to try and resolve things,” said Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who sponsored the package.

My Forbes colleague Rick Ungar, in a post called “The Michigan Monarchy Legislates Financial Martial Law—Nation Yawns,” has a different take.


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