Senator Proos co-sponsors bill to help marinas obtain low-interest loans for dredging

News - March 6, 2013

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Michigan marinas would be able to obtain low-interest loans for the purpose of dredging their harbors under recently introduced legislation co-sponsored by Senator John Proos.

“Record-low water levels in the Great Lakes are beginning to impact the state’s recreational marinas and pose a threat to the state’s billion-dollar tourism industry,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph.

“This initiative is about meeting the call for urgent action to help our harbours remain open for boaters – especially in shoreline communities like Southwest Michigan where thousands of families depend on tourism to make ends meet.”

Senate Bill 215 would set up a process to enable privately owned marinas in Michigan to obtain low-interest loans for the purpose of dredging and maintaining the harbour.

“A lack of dredging in Michigan harbors by the federal government is already impacting our economy by forcing ships to carry lighter loads – resulting in increased costs for consumer goods from food to car parts,” Proos said.

“While we work on a solution to increase the capacity of our commercial ports, we also need to help solve the problem facing recreational marinas.

“Beyond helping to support a thriving tourism industry, access to our lakes is fundamental to the quality of life in Michigan. This is not a handout. It is a way to help our marinas ensure Michigan boaters and tourists will have access to our waterways.”

Proos noted that SB 215 is one of several proposals being considered by the Legislative Waterways Caucus to solve Michigan’s annual struggles with dredging needs, including renewing Proos’ call on Congress to use the more than $6 billion balance in the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to meet the critical dredging needs of Great Lakes harbours.

“For a long time I have advocated for maintaining both public and private harbours, and I look forward to adopting short- and long-term solutions that help ensure our harbors and waterways are accessible and sustainable for years to come,” Proos said. "Assisting our marinas do the dredging needed to stay open for boaters is an important step.”

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