Friday, February 12, 2016

House Judiciary Committee Democrats Request Hearing on the Role of Emergency Managers in Flint and Detroit, Michigan

Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Democratic Committee, John Conyers, Jr.
WASHINGTON – Today, all sixteen Democratic Members of the U.S. House Committee on the 
Judiciary issued a letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) requesting a hearing to examine the role of Emergency Financial Managers (EFM) in financially distressed cities in Michigan.

In the letter, the Members request that the Committee “conduct hearings concerning the operation of the Michigan Emergency Manager Law and its role in the tragedies concerning the poisoning of Flint’s water and the dangerous deterioration of the Detroit Public Schools.”

The lawmakers also wrote, “the Committee on the Judiciary has a long history of holding hearings on matters of grave legal and constitutional significance. Given the tragic consequences of Michigan’s emergency manager law for the citizens of Flint and Detroit, and the legal and constitutional questions such laws raise, we believe it is not only appropriate but necessary for the Committee to review these issues.”

The letter was signed by Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Steven Cohen (TN-09), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Pedro Pierluisi (PR-Res. Comms.), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ted Deutch (FL-21),  Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Karen Bass (CA-27), Cedric Richmond (LA-02), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), David Cicilline (RI-01), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), and Scott Peters (CA-52).

Enacted in 1988, the original Michigan financial distress law was rarely used and simply authorized the State to involve itself in the affairs of local government facing a “financial emergency.”

Many state budgets were tightened after the 2008 Great Recession.   By 2010, when Rick Snyder was elected Governor and Republicans took control of both the State House and Senate, one of their first orders of business was to dramatically expand the Emergency Manager law to grant Emergency Managers the power to take over all aspects of local governments, to unilaterally reject collective bargaining agreements, and to insulate Emergency Managers from legal liability.

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