LANSING -- it’s do or die day for the 10,000 to 35,000 Michigan jobs and a new, modern bridge between Detroit and Windsor and the busies border crossing in North America after a discharge vote on House Bill 4961 that would authorize Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership with Canada to build the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge failed to materialize on Wednesday.
Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, has been trying engineer a vote to discharge the bill from committee to the Senate floor an up or down vote, but the one real attempt was postponed on Tuesday after it appeared the necessary 19 votes were not there. If the bill does not get a vote today, all the six years of work die and the process starts all over again after Jan 1 when the new Legislature comes in. This is the last day of the Lame Duck session, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, - who reneged on a promise to being the bill to a vote back in May – plans to take the rest of the month of December off.
The DRIC Bridge project is supported by more then 80 business and labor organizations from Grand Rapids to Detroit and Ohio to Texas representing thousands of business of all sizes and hundreds of thousands of workers who count on free flowing trade with Canada. It also has bipartisan support, including the support of the last three Michigan governors.
The good news is that the media is starting to realize the only opposition is the Senate Republican Caucus after Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun pumped large amounts of campaign cash to the caucus.
The last ditch effort will begin today. A vote will eliminate all the BS talk about needing more time after years of committee hearings and debate. At least one Detroit News blogger hit the nail on the head.
“Politicians and wonks on both sides of the Detroit River have considered the border crossing issue for most of the decade. Senators who haven’t yet formed an opinion, one way or another, on this issue have no business holding elected office. Infrastructure at North America’s busiest commercial border crossing is kind of a big issue for Michigan. Or it should be, anyway.”
“The binational study that produced the DRIC plan began in 2004. The House handed off DRIC to the Senate almost six months ago. Any Senator suggesting postponement on the DRIC vote because they don't want anything “jammed down their throats” is either a liar or woefully incompetent. Possibly both.”