Organizers collecting signatures in favor of a voter referendum on Public Act 4, Michigan's emergency manager law, have revised a deadline to send petitions to the Secretary of State.
Public Act 4, passed by Michigan's Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in March, allows the governor to appoint an emergency manager to run financially struggling cities and school districts. Emergency managers have nearly absolute decision-making authority and can dismiss elected public officials.
If successful, the petition would freeze Public Act 4 until a statewide referendum vote in November.
Stand Up For Democracy, one group behind the petition drive, originally announced organizers would bring collected signatures to Lansing on Jan. 18, the same day as Snyder's State of the State address. Although organizers say they now have more than the 161,305 necessary signatures, they will continue to circulate petitions until they reach their goal of 250,000 names. They are now aiming for Feb. 18 to hand in the signatures for verification by the Secretary of State.
According to the Detroit Free Press, organizers now have nearly 200,000 signatures and should reach their new goal by the end of February. Michigan Forward's Brandon Jessup told Eclectablog the group has gathered and verified 180,000 signatures.
Jessup told HuffPost that organizers are trying to build a strong coalition to challenge the emergency manager law.
"More organizations want to come on board," he said. "We want to collect as many signatures as we can to make sure this is a mandate."
Jessup also complimented protesters who marched on Snyder's Superior Township home Monday in opposition to the law. Different estimates from police and the media placed the crowd's size between 800 and 1,000 people.
"It was good to see thousands march at the governor's house," Jessup said. "We hope to see thousands of them pick up petitions and stand for democracy in Michigan."
Snyder's chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, told AnnArbor.com that the rally at the governor's home was a great example of democracy in action.
"We certainly recognize the concerns and we share those concerns" of the protesters, Muchmore said. "We want to make sure that all of these cities are vibrant and have got a financial status for the future that can be sustained."
Emergency managers now run the cities of Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor and the Detroit Public Schools. Gov. Snyder is also preparing to appoint an Emergency Manager to the Highland Park Schools, and a review board is currently investigating the city of Detroit for a possible takeover.