The new bridge connecting Detroit and Canada is the hot ticket in town, with 85 people clamoring to testify before the Senate Economic Development Committee.
Chair Mike KOWALL (R-White Lake) said that’s the round number of folks “standing in line, which is a lot.”
“We want to give people a chance to talk,” Kowall said. “There’s a lot of frustration out there and a lot of people haven’t had a chance to put in their two cents’ worth. . . . I want to give them an opportunity to do so.
“I think it’s the ads,” added Kowall Chief of Staff Mike MURRAY. “People are coming out of the woodwork.”
Kowall said he thinks part of the issue is that people are confused over all the information out there over 10 years.
“We’re trying to sort through all the chaff and get to the heart of the matter,” he said. “And we’re well on our way to doing that.”
Asked if there’s been another issue that’s drawn this much interest, Kowall said that the House’s 2000 attempt to tighten regulations on the adult entertainment industry had plenty of people fighting for time at the mic.
Kowall estimates there will be about a dozen hearings on the bridge, but he’s not planning to cut things off unless “things get redundant. That’s when we’re done.” He said that was the only instruction from Senate Majority Leader Randy RICHARDVILLE (R-Monroe), who introduced SB 0410 and SB 0411, but has since taken a hands-off approach.
Some hearings may be devoted to specific topics, like the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Kowall said.
There have been two committee hearings so far on the bridge, with Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY testifying in favor and Matthew MOROUN of the private Ambassador Bridge opposed. This week’s hearing was canceled due to the Senate going long on Wednesday. Another hearing is on tap next week, likely on Wednesday, depending how session goes, Kowall said.
As MIRS has reported, most of the hearings will take place in the fall. But Kowall said “it’s not something we’re sleeping on” and the committee will continue to work on the issue over the summer. He said he may hold a hearing in Detroit and invite local lawmakers.
And in late June, he’s planning a committee trip to the proposed site of the new bridge, as well as the Ambassador Bridge.
“Some of the committee members have never been there,” Kowall said.