Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made a stop in Motown Wednesday to sign several pieces of Detroit-related laws that are unlikely to be as controversial as his recent signing of right-to-work legislation and veto of a concealed carry firearms bill.
During a ceremony at the D:Hive welcome center downtown attended by Mayor Dave Bing and other local leaders, the governor approved a number of bills that support a Regional Transit Authority (RTA), a Detroit lighting authority, a new entertainment complex development project being pushed by Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and the expansion of the city's Eastern Market district.
"This is about bringing a bright future in Detroit, not just for the kids today, but for their kids so they can stay here," Snyder said at a press conference following the signing.
The transit legislation allows for the the establishment of an authority to coordinate public transportation in Southeast Michigan. The state legislature recently approved a package of bills creating the body and working out a number of issues related to funding, zoning and cooperation between different local transit agencies.
Although the governor has long been a supporter of an RTA, it's been difficult for all the parties involved with the authority to work out a common vision and pass it into law. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said that a regional authority is a prerequisite for the developers of the M-1 Woodward Avenue light rail line to qualify for $25 million in federal funding.
“This isn’t the end of the line, but it is a great victory for everyone who cares about reconnecting our communities and sustaining our state into the future.” Joel Batterman Transportation Coordinator of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance said of the signing in a release sent to The Huffington Post.
The lighting authority legislation will turn over supervision of Detroit's lighting from the city to a public authority that will be able to issue bonds to repair the city's streetlights, the Detroit Free Press reports. Mayor Bing announced an ambitious plan to repair the city's lighting system earlier this year, but it was contingent on the creation of the public authority. At Wednesday's signing he said it would take about three years to fix the Detroit's lighting grid system.
The entertainment center measure will allow Ilitch's company Olympia Entertainmentto access $13 million in tax dollars to help fund his proposed public-private development of a new downtown district. The project will include residential, retail and office facilities and is likely to include a new arena for the Red Wings.
Ilitch is currently at odds with Detroit over taxes. The city says Olympia Entertainment owes them $1.5 million in back taxes for rental of the Joe Louis arena, which they dispute. Bing said earlier he was confident the matter would be resolved as they negotiate a new lease for the Red Wings team.
Snyder also signed House Bill 5926, which permits non-profit organizations like Eastern Market to apply for federal loans and grants and will allow the district to expand, the Detroit News reports.