This past Tuesday, I hosted a forum in Highland Park, Michigan regarding the legal implications of Michigan’s Emergency Manager’s Law. At the forum, I issued a House Judiciary Democratic Staff Report finding that the law was unconstitutional, that the Emergency Managers were not working and had engaged in mismanagement and abuse. The report also included a series of recommendations on how to address both the law's legal issues and the underlying financial causes. A copy of that report is here and a copy of my statement at the hearing is here.
At the forum, the Nation’s leading expert on constitutional and bankruptcy issues, Professor Kenneth Klee, stated unequivocally that “as currently drafted, the [Michigan EM Law] is violative of the Contracts Clause … No prior legislature has had the audacity to legislate the unilateral termination, rejection, or modification of a collective bargaining agreement.” His testimony is here. We also heard from other leading experts on Voting Rights, Federal and State Constitutional and other legal issues who raised troubling questions about the law, as well as from the Emergency Manager from Benton Harbor. All of their testimony is here.
Our Nation was built upon the fundamental building blocks of voting rights and guarantees of contract and collective bargaining. Unfortunately, the State of Michigan has chosen to abandon these precious rights in a futile effort to balance our cities’ books. These efforts have not worked, and before we go any further, it is incumbent that we all to work together to craft a more sensible and constitutional solution.