Michigan voters react to Emergency Financial Manager Law repeal - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Michigan voters react to Emergency Financial Manager Law repeal

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Michigan voters wanted more control in their local government.

"It's the United States where we're supposed to be the government ourselves," says voter Mark Peppel.

And that's what they got.

"The whole point is to keep districts being responsible and I didn't really feel that having a stronger law would help," says voter Angelika MacGowan.

Michigan residents voted down the states emergency manager law Tuesday.

"Those who are in opposition claim that well the city should have authority to make it's own decisions," says Joseph Harris, Benton Harbor EFM.

He says the law was written to help cities in crisis, like Benton Harbor. It gave him more than just authority over solving money problems.

 "One reason it was enacted was to give the Emergency Financial Manager more authority to be able to not only correct the situation but to correct it so the issue wouldn't have to come back again."

Under the law, Harris had authority to dismiss local leaders and wipe out union contracts. But voters decided that was too much power. After the vote, Michigan must go back to the original law permanently. That doesn't mean the emergency financial manager will get the boot. He'll still be around, but mayor James Hightower says voters gave the city more local control.

"For myself as mayor and the city commission, we have a little more authority."

He's not opposed to getting assistance. "We'll take whatever help we can get."

But he says that help should be limited.

"I always thought the general focus should be working with the state to help rectify the financial issues."

A focus that he says should be on becoming stable, so the local government can take control again.

As Emergency Financial Manager Joseph Harris starts backing off, he says he will have workshops to educate city leaders on financial matters so they can be ready to take over completely.

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