LANSING -- The thousands of dollars Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun gave to the Senate Republicans paid off on Thursday when the entire GOP caucus voted no on discharging House Bill 4961 from committee; a bill that would authorize Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership with Canada to build the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge.
The 11-23 vote was just to discharge the bill from the Transportation Committee that has had it for more than 7 months and has been in the works for a decade, and a majority would just have allowed it too have an up or down vote. Thursday was the last day of the 2010 Legislative session, despite it’s only the second day of December, and the bill is now dead and must be re-introduced by the new Legislature in January.
To keep their monopoly of the busiest border crossing in North America, the Moroun family has contributed nearly $400,000 this year to political action committees (PAC) and candidates controlled by Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, that helped Senate Republicans, to Bishop's unsuccessful attorney general campaign or directly to Senate Republican candidate committees to keep their monopoly.
Governor Jennifer Granholm said the move to kill 10,000 to 35,000 jobs and a project that 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 is a prime example of why Michigan needs campaign finance reform.
“Senate Republicans have bowed to special interests,” she said “They are irresponsible, discarding 10,000 jobs for Michigan workers and ignoring the needs of job providers.”
Rarely does a project have the support of both labor and the chamber of commerce, but the DRIC project does.
“It's simply incredible that they turned down a no-risk project which had support from business, labor, former Governors Engler and Blanchard and the U.S. and Canadian governments,” Granholm said.
Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, who introduced the discharge motion, said he will continue to advocate for the DRIC project.
“While I am disappointed, this certainly isn’t the end of DRIC,” Basham said. “There are incoming legislators from both sides of the aisle and in both legislative chambers already preparing to pick up where we left off. I urge Governor-elect Rick Snyder to make this a top priority because this new border crossing is critical for Michigan’s future, creating more than 10,000 much-needed jobs now while providing the necessary infrastructure to support the continued growth of our international commerce and trade.”
The Canadian government, that has offered Michigan up to $550 million to help pay for the new border crossing, is becoming very impatient, and they may ask Washington to step in; either that or a new bridge will be built in Buffalo.