WXYZ Detroit - The long awaited Regional Transit Authority bill for Southeast Michigan isn't dead in Michigan's controversial lame duck legislative session. That political assessment comes from the lawmaker who is running the last leg of a mass transit relay through Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing.
State Representative Paul Opsommer, (R) Dewitt, chairs the Michigan House of Representative's powerful transportation committee. On Wednesday, all five rapid transit bills were voted out of his committee along party lines. All of the Yes votes were cast by Republicans. All of the No votes were posted by the Democrats. It looked like the bill would come up for a full vote from the House yesterday but was pulled when it looked like there weren't enough votes for passage. However, Rep. Opsommer expects the bill to reach the House floor today for a vote from the 110 members. "I think I now have the votes to pass it," Opsommer told me. And when I asked him if he had enough votes to pass the transit bill even if all of the Democrats vote against it in protest of the Governor and Republicans putting right to work legislation on the lame duck session agenda, Opsommer said confidently, "Yes!"
The last time the Michigan legislature got this close to passing a rapid transit authority measure was in 2002 but then Republican Governor John Engler vetoed it at the last second even though he had promised to sign it if the bill ever reached his desk. This time around, Governor Rick Snyder has publicly stated on numerous occasions that an RTA bill for the Detroit area is one of his top priorities. If Rep. Opsommer is right, Michigan residents will know sometime today if a bill traditionally supported by a strong backing of Democrats is passed by a united wall of Republicans or a bi-partisan legislative coalition.