The chair of the Senate committee considering the proposed second bridge between Detroit and Windsor is not discounting the possibility of a vote by the end of October on the project.
But Sen. Mike KOWALL (R-White Lake), chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee, also revealed that “I’m still in the convincing mode” and he’s not sure his panel is ready to vote just, yet.
Kowall was asked if the issue was moving forward, standing still or going backwards.
“All of the above,” he chuckled, noting that he had to go backwards to bring some of the committee members up to speed on the complex and controversial question.
He said he believes the bus trip to visit the bridge site and the side trip to Windsor this summer was a critical piece of the learning process.
Kowall said he wanted to “let them experience what the trucks go through” when using the Ambassador Bridge in what turned out to be almost a 13-hour day. He laughed that the field trip was described as the “March to Bataan on a bus,” referring to a death march during World War II.
Next week, the automobile manufacturers will take center stage to outline their complaints about delays on the current span as they struggle to meet the requirements of the on time deliveries to keep car factories operating. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all back the new bridge.
Kowall is running for Congress in the 11th District. When asked if the bridge would have any impact on his bid, he answered, “I don’t think so.”
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY, Gov. Rick SNYDER‘s point person on the bridge, said the “awareness is growing” that the bridge is essential to Michigan’s economic comeback. He said he’s buying into Senate Majority Leader Randy RICHARDVILLE‘s (R-Monroe) assertion that there could be that full Senate vote by the end of next month.
Richardville also said that if the vote were held, he would have 20 votes in the Senate.
“I tend to believe him,” Calley said.
MIRS has learned that one senator has privately advised the GOP leader to vote on it now because the longer you wait, the tougher the vote might be. However, a well-placed source tells MIRS that there’s not much interest from House Republicans to take up the legislation even if it does clear the Senate.
Calley says he still has work to do, however, with various Tea Party factions that oppose the governor’s idea. As MIRS reported on Monday, the Willow Run Tea Party this week is slated to start airing an anti-China ad against the bridge on cable TV.
“I don’t blame them” for not understanding that this new proposal is not the old one, Calley said. He reiterated that misinformation has become part of this protracted debate.