"This pipeline and the energy resources that flow through it are utilized by hundreds of thousands of Michiganders every single day, and we need to protect these energy resources. We in this chamber with the plan that's before us cannot wait any longer, because doing nothing is not an option."
–Representative Lee Chatfield
Just after 12:45 P.M. on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 Senate Bill 1197 passed the House with a 74-34 vote. Several Democratic Representatives joined their Republican colleagues in support of the bill. This bill would create a new entity, the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, to assume oversight of a proposed utility tunnel.
A substitute to Senate Bill 1197 was introduced by Sen. Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City last week and passed through the State Senate on a 25 to 13 vote. This bill would create a new entity, the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, to assume oversight of a proposed utility tunnel. This differs from the original intent of SB 1197, which had planned for the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) to have oversight over the tunnel. This new entity would include three members, with no more than two of the same political party, appointed by the governor for six-year terms.
In a press release issued last week, Sen. Tom Casperson said, “The Mackinac Bridge Authority has done an outstanding job maintaining the Mackinac Bridge, but board members were concerned about dividing their attention by managing this new responsibility — and I completely understand.”
Legislators and Mackinac Bridge Authority board members favor this alternative, crafted in response to comments submitted on the original SB 1197. As outlined in the new legislation, the authority will not have eminent domain and Enbridge will not be exempt from required environmental protections and permits.
Senate Bill 1197 was reported out of the Michigan State House Government Operations Committee, chaired by Representative Lee Chatfield, this morning, Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 with one amendment introduced and passed. The amendment proposed by Minority Leader Sam Singh of East Lansing, will ensure the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) is reimbursed for any loss of profit from the leasing of space in the tunnel to data and telecommunications transmission lines. The Mackinac Bridge Authority currents brings in about $500,000 a year from fiber leases on the Mackinac Bridge.
Before final vote in the House, an additional amendment offered by Representative Sarah Cambensy of Marquette was adopted. This amendment will require the proposed tunnel agreement to have a plan for engaging "this state's labor pool in the project."
Just after 12:45P.M. today, SB 1197 passed the House with a 74-34 vote. Several Democratic Representatives joined their Republican colleagues in support of the bill. The bill as passed, with approved amendments, then returned to the Senate for concurrence (approval) of the House’s actions. The State Senate concurred with a 25-12 vote, with 1 member not voting.
Later that afternoon, Governor Snyder signed the legislation which is now Public Act 359 of 2018. The Act establishes the Mackinac straits Corridor Authority, a three member board who serve six-year terms expiring Dec. 12, 2024. They will be tasked with overseeing the tunnel project and required to enter into an agreement to build a tunnel, provided the agreement met certain criteria, including; a plan for recruiting, training and using Michigan workers for the tunnel project. Allow for multiple utilities to use the tunnel. Limit liability for the state, the authority and members of the authority. Require that all necessary government approvals be obtained for the tunnel. Prohibit the use of eminent domain to acquire property for the project. Ensure the state bears no cost for design, construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel. Ensure that any privately owned portion of the project – including the aboveground entrances and any utility lines within the tunnel – is subject to taxation. As well as, reimburse the Mackinac Bridge Authority for any net loss of profit for leasing space for telecommunication lines.
“This new law is the result of a tremendous effort by Sen. Casperson, my partners in the House and Senate leadership, and a diverse group of stakeholders, including business leaders and union representatives,” Snyder said. “We all understand the importance of bringing certainty to removing Line 5 from the waters in the Straits of Mackinac. By working together, they helped garner bipartisan support to ensure we are protecting the Great Lakes while securing better energy infrastructure for Michigan.”
-Governor Rick Snyder