Opposition to Michigan's EM law goes nationally

Governor Rick Snyder

Nationally, Governor Rick Snyder has been taking heat for Michigan's Emergency Manager law.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson have expressed their disapproval.

The Emergency Manager idea is not new to Michigan, but some of the provisions are.

That's what has opponents riled up.

William Borch, Upstate Business Agent for Iron Workers Local 25 in Zilwaukee says, "This is the biggest intrusion of government that I can recollect."

Union leaders say Governor Rick Snyder's ability to appoint an emergency manager, like Mike Brown in Flint, is un-American and a dictatorship.

"Who's accountable to the public then? The public voted them in, right?" asks Borch.

However, supporters of the EM law say if the elected did what was right, there would be no need for one.

Michael LaFaive, Fiscal Policy Director for Midland's Mackinac Center says, "The painful truth is cities with emergency managers today would not have them if they had not fouled their own financial nest."

The history of emergency managers in Michigan include both republicans and democrats.

Democrat Governor James Blanchard signed emergency financial manager legislation in 1990.

In 2002, Republican Governor John Engler installed Ed Kurtz as the emergency financial manager in Flint.

Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed an EFM to Benton Harbor in 2010.

The current opposition says it's against the expanded powers of emergency managers who are appointed by the governor for as long as he or she sees fit.

Borch says, "It's a very scary time in Michigan"

Supporters say, those are powers that allow EM's to make a difference.

"When the economic rubber meets the road, this is probably about the fear of union leadership getting collective bargaining agreement after collective bargaining agreement shunted aside by a duly appointed emergency manager, who does have the power to replace them." says LaFaive.

Supporters of the EM law also say the legislation is to help keep communities from having to file for bankruptcy, where a federal judge could make powerful decisions.

Opponents say EM's are too powerful and could sell off assets like utility companies paid for by the tax-payers.