By Kelli Barrett
SOUTHGATE — The main reason a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor is still on the drawing board is because of opposition from the owner of the Ambassador Bridge.
That’s what state Rep. Douglas Geiss (D-Taylor) told a crowd Monday at the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber’s Legislative Forum at Crystal Gardens.
Geiss was one of four state representatives who spoke.
He stressed the importance of another international bridge for Michigan’s economy, and for the economy of North America. Being an engineer, Geiss said, he fully understands the condition of the more than 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which he said is overused and in bad shape.
Democrats and Republicans want to see a new bridge linking Canada and the United States completed, he said.
Manuel “Matty” Moroun is the owner of the Ambassador Bridge.
“Lies are being put out by Moroun,” Geiss said concerning the ads Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co. has paid for in his attacks against the proposal for a new bridge. “Your tax dollars are not on the line for the bridge.”
Geiss also said maintenance on the bridge later on would not fall on taxpayers.
“It’s going to happen,” he said about the bridge. “After it’s done, it’ll be clear who was misleading the public.”
State Rep. Paul Clemente (D-Lincoln Park) spoke on what government has done for him. He used examples ranging from nuclear and electronic power to bathrooms and the removal of sewage and waste.
“Government solves many vexing problems,” he said.
Clemente was asked about how Downriver could be turned into a tourist destination with the help of the Pure Michigan campaign. Clemente said the challenge comes from Detroit always having been a center for industry.
State Rep. Andrew Kandrevas (D-Southgate) was asked about anti-bullying legislation. It’s an issue people are concerned with, he said, and Lansing cannot be slow to respond.
“I did not think the bill went too far,” he said.
Kandrevas also touched on issues such as insurance reform and the positive outcome of congressional redistricting that gives U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-15th District) more of the Downriver area back. He urged the audience to look into the no-fault auto insurance law and the possible changes.
“It’s going to affect us all,” Kandrevas said.
The state budget was brought up, focusing on cuts to the Education and Human Services departments.
State Rep. Patrick Somerville (R-Huron Twp.), the only Republican at the forum, spoke on Lansing’s high productivity level, mentioning the “job-killing business tax” that is now gone under the leadership of Gov. Rick Snyder. He also discussed education and opportunities that must be available to graduating college students.
State Rep. Dian Slavens (D-Canton Twp.) didn’t attend, although she had been expected to.