Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 29, 2012

Michigan in Brief: 09/29/2012


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Senators draft new law if voters say no

LANSING — The leader of the Michigan Senate said he and fellow Republican colleagues are armed with a proposal to replace the state law that lets emergency managers take over local governments in the event voters strike it down in November.

The behind-the-scenes effort, which doesn't appear to involve Republican House leaders or GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, aims to keep a form of the contentious law on the books while acknowledging some of the critics' concerns, which include that it takes too much power from local leaders struggling with budget deficits.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville told The Associated Press the move is not an admission that the current law is flawed, but the new draft takes those concerns into account. He said he couldn't provide details about the alternative bill because the draft is under legal review.

"If something happened like that bill was overturned, I think the Legislature would have to be ready to respond and to still deal with the emergency," Richardville said. "You can eliminate the financial manager from the emergency financial manager legislation, but you can't remove the emergency."

The legislative tinkering is the latest twist in the battle over the law that went all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court last month. The state's highest court ruled a union-backed referendum to repeal the law can go on the ballot in November.

8-time felon seeks state House seat

DETROIT — An eight-time felon convicted of writing bad checks and credit card fraud between 1998 and 2004 who said he's made "many poor decisions" is running for a state House seat in the November election.

Brian Banks, a Detroit Democrat running in Michigan's 1st House District, insists that he has turned his life around, the Detroit Free Press reported. The 35-year-old said he's graduated from college, received a master's degree and a law degree, and is working on a PhD.

"Yes, I've made many poor decisions, and yes, I have a record, but that's exactly what it is, my past," Banks said. "I would ask them to look at what I've accomplished professionally and academically, since my poor decisions."

Banks said he's been open about his past, telling audiences in the district that includes parts of Detroit, Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores about his record.

His campaign website says voters can "bank on Banks."

With no incumbent running, Banks beat four other Democrats in the primary. He faces Republican Dan Schulte, a Grosse Pointe Shores city councilman, on Nov. 6.

Schulte said he was surprised by his opponent's background.

"You can't be an attorney or doctor with a felony, and I don't think you can teach elementary school with a felony," Schulte said. "If you can't do any of those things, I don't know why you can be a legislator."