Lawmakers request investigation of Michigan emergency manager law


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The lawmakers, Reps. John Conyers and Gary Peters, sent a letter on Thursday to General Accounting Office Comptroller Gene Dodaro requesting an investigation into potential abuse of the the law.

The law was repealed by Michigan voters in 2012 but a new law was approved by the state's legislature more recently.

A week earlier March Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) named bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr, who previously represented Chrysler during the car company's restructuring, as the city's emergency manager to sort out the city's finances.

"We write to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study of the Michigan emergency manager law, including the operation of federally-funded programs (such as education, transportation, Medicaid, and public safety) in jurisdictions declared in financial crisis, and placed under the authority of an emergency financial manager," the Democrats write in the letter.

The lawmakers go on to say that the review should include a review over "any misuse of federal or other funds" as well as  "an evaluation of the various emergency managers' efficacy in applying for and obtaining federal grants, loans, and other funds."

The lawmakers write that the "unilateral appointment of an unelected manger raises serious legal concerns" but their current request focuses on "fiscal accountability issues."

"We recognize that many jurisdictions face severe distress from a variety of interrelated budget and legal issues —including reductions in state revenue sharing and limitations on city taxing authority— and that the difficult financial choices must be made in difficult times," Conyers and Peters write. "These jurisdictions include the City of Detroit, which we represent, and for which, subject to an appeal, an emergency manager was designated."

About a year ago Conyers asked Attorney General Eric holder to review the emergency manager law. Conyers said that the provision of the law that gives the emergency manager "sole discretion" over changing or ending contracts is in violation to the U.S. constitution.


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