Michigan House passes RTA bill

Michigan House passes RTA bill

LANSING — On a hectic Thursday at Michigan's Capitol, legislation establishing a regional transit authority in Michigan, Senate Bill 909, passed the Michigan House of Representatives in a Lame-Duck session with a vote of 57-50. 

The bill will authorize Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw and Macomb Counties to create a 10-member board that would create a regional bus rapid transit system (BRT), coordinate existing bus systems and levy taxes. 

The creation of the Authority also means Michigan is now eligible to receive federal funds for projects, including $25 million for the M-1 streetcar line on Woodward, and for BRT. 

Just before SB 909's passage, however, Washtenaw County decided to withdraw from the Authority, saying taxpayers should decide if they want to be a part of the southeast Michigan's regional transit system. 

Michigan Legislators have made 24 attempts in four decades to pass RTA legislation and is the only region out of 41 in the United States' largest metro regions without one.

Senate Bill 909 received only two votes from Democrats, including Reps. Lesia Liss and Shanelle Jackson, because many refused to vote for the legislation because House Bill 4054, or the Right-to-Work bill, was also on the agenda. 

Legislators had to also cancel votes on Senate Bills 911-12, 445 and 967, bills that work out fine details for the Authority, because they lacked Democratic support.

House Democrats walked off the floor during a vote for Right-to-Work legislation. The fate of the RTA's companion bills is unknown. 

Call and e-mail your representatives and tell them to support the remaining bills in the RTA package!