(Crystal A. Proxmire, 12/08/2011)
The State House of Representatives passed HB 5187 today. If the bill progresses through the Senate and is signed by the Governor, it would cap the number of County Commissioners in any county to 21. It would also take away the authority of the current body to draw the new district lines in Oakland County, and gives it to the Commission as a whole. If passed, Oakland County would then have 30 days to jettison four elected officials and re-draw the District lines.
The bill, as passed by the House, can be read here.
Currently the county apportionment commission has 3 out of 5 members being Democrats. The bill has a special provision that says “In a county with a population of 1,000,000 or more that has adopted an optional unified form of county government under 1973 PA 139, MCL 45.551 to 45.573, with an elected county executive, the county apportionment commission shall be the county board of commissioners.” This provision excludes Wayne County, and only affects Oakland, directly taking authority away from the apportionment commission and handing it to the Republican-dominated Commission.
The bill “would throw out the bi-partisan way that districts have been drawn and replace it with a new system controlled by the current sitting county commissioners. In other words, current Republican who hold office right now in our county, would get to redraw their own district lines,” said County Commissioner Craig Covey, who represents the 25th District encompassing Ferndale, Hazel Park and the southern portion of Royal Oak. “Lansing, of course, is totally run by Republicans today. They control the Michigan House, the Michigan Senate, and the Governor’s office.”
Republicans claim such changes to reduce the number of commissioners may save money. Covey’s response to that claim is that “such changes are usually done by the voters, rather than people in Lansing.”
He also noted that “Oakland County, by the way, has a surplus of dollars, and the budget is balanced until 2015.” Covey shared his opinion in a blog on the subject Thursday, just before the vote was finalized. Read Covey’s blog at http://coveys-corner.blogspot.com/. To listen to an interview with Jacobson, check out WDET at http://wdet.org/shows/craig-fahle-show/episode/new-rules-for-drawing-district-boundaries-in-oc/#.TuHyq2dPBes.facebook.
HB 5187 passed 58-50, and will now be considered by the State Senate.