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Groups Ask MI Governor to Kill Bill Giving Lawmakers Power Over A-G

Opponents say Michigan lawmakers violated constitutional separation of powers when voting on Thursday to give themselves power to intervene in decisions made by the incoming attorney general. (SAN906/Wikimedia Commons)
Opponents say Michigan lawmakers violated constitutional separation of powers when voting on Thursday to give themselves power to intervene in decisions made by the incoming attorney general. (SAN906/Wikimedia Commons)
December 21, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – Citizens' groups are slamming the passage of a bill to give state lawmakers a say over legal decisions made by Michigan's next attorney general – and they want Governor Rick Snyder to veto it.

The bill's supporters in the Republican-dominated legislature have said they want to guard against overreach by incoming AG Dana Nessel, a Democrat. But Claire McClinton, an organizer with the Democracy Defense League in Flint, says many families there should be compensated for the damage done to their health and property during the water crisis – and she worries that lawmakers will tie Nessel's hands.

"For us in Flint, we are terribly concerned that if the attorney general wants to sit down and settle our claims, that the legislature can come in and say, 'No, we don't want that. Continue to fight their lawsuit,'" says McClinton.

McClinton calls the bill an unconstitutional power grab.

She notes that before the election, lawmakers passed bills to raise the minimum wage and establish rules for paid sick time, in order to keep them off the ballot. But since then, they have voted to weaken those laws, with the blessing of Governor Snyder.

McClinton says the Republicans have used the lame-duck session to undermine the executive branch, and, in her view, double-cross voters.

"This is just a continuance of a breakdown of democracy here in Michigan, and we from Flint can assure you that we are not the better for this type of governance," says McClinton.

Her group is also voicing concerns about the criminal cases against several officials deemed responsible for the Flint water crisis, and about a case in federal court against the state law that allowed Governor Snyder to appoint the emergency manager who chose to switch the water supply in Flint over to the Flint River – a decision that sparked the crisis.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI