EFM Bills Pass Senate
Legislation allowing the state to step into a local school district's or local government's financial meltdown earlier in the process as well as turn over the power to void publicly bargained contracts to an appointed emergency financial manager passed the Senate on straight party line votes.
The major changes in the Senate to HB 4214, the lead bill, included dropping a House-passed requirement that would ban elected officials from serving again for six years if they were in place when an emergency financial manager was appointed.
During final action in the Senate today, Democrats offered many of the same amendments that came up Tuesday on the measure under General Orders (See "Labor Loud But Poised To Lose," 3/8/11).
The one that garnered the most debate was offered by Sen. Tupac HUNTER (D-Detroit) to cap the pay rate of an emergency financial manager to that of Gov. Rick SNYDER, as set out by the State Officers Compensation Commission (SOCC).
The justification for the amendment, according to Sen. Coleman YOUNG, Jr. (D-Detroit) was the $400,000 he said was being paid the Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert BOBB.
"At $400,000 I expect you to be able to leap buildings . . . and shoot lasers out of your eyes," he said.
Sen. Rick JONES (R-Grand Ledge) responded by reminding "everyone that Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM hired Bobb and agreed to pay him $280,000."
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen WHITMER (D-East Lansing) suggested to cheers from outside the chamber at one point that Republican members of the Senate were laying out job opportunities.
"I can't help but wonder, maybe you're just looking out for your next job after term limits? You can make over $100,000 more than what you make with only two days training," Whitmer said after pointing out the Governor's budget would push more local units closer to needing emergency financial managers.
Today, when the amendment came up for a vote, the Senate locked at 19-19 with seven freshman GOP members of the Senate voting yes with all 12 Democrats. Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY then had to cast his first tie-breaking vote by voting no against the measure.
Republicans voting for the salary cap included Sens. Tom CASPERSON (R-Escanaba), Bruce CASWELL (R-Hillsdale), Patrick COLBECK (R-Canton), Mike GREEN (R-Mayville), Geoff HANSEN (R-Hart), Mike NOFS (R-Battle Creek) and Tory ROCCA (R-Sterling Heights).
Sen. Tonya SCHUITMAKER (R-Lawton) successfully amended the bill to require that emergency financial managers abide by the conflict of interest requirements imposed on all other state officers.
HB 4214 and HB 4216, HB 4217, HB 4218 passed the Senate on straight party line votes. Rep. Al PSCHOLKA (R-Stevensville) told MIRS the House would concur to the Senate's changes to HB 4214. The other three bills in the package that came over without amendment were enrolled and presented to the governor by the House this afternoon.
Gaffney Hunting for 9 GOP Votes
Having lost the battle in the Senate, the head of the state's largest union coalition is hunting for nine moderate Republican votes in the House to redesign the emergency financial manager legislation.
"There will be an Emergency Financial Manager bill," AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney said, but he reported he's now working to convince "nine moderate Republicans House members" to "make sense" out of the measure as it cleared the Senate.
"There are some moderate Republicans who are concerned," he told MIRS, and two of them were on the phone trying to reach Gaffney on Wednesday. "We are looking for Republicans who want to respect democracy."
The AFL-CIO president argued one person should not decide if there should be athletics, busing or extra curricular activities in a school.
"Those decisions are up to the people and the school board," he said.
Asked how many of the nine he had secured he responded, "The number is not zero."