Legislation introduced for Great Lakes Authority, a new federal entity for the Great Lakes region

Legislation introduced for Great Lakes Authority, a new federal entity for the Great Lakes region
March 18, 2022 Natasha Blakely

During the March “Great Lakes Week” organized by the Great Lakes Commission, Rep. Marcy Kaptur talked about the Great Lakes Authority.

The Great Lakes Authority, which would be a federal entity focused on the economic interests of the Great Lakes region, is an idea that the congresswoman has fought to put into legislation for a few years already.

“The Great Lakes region is the industrial workhorse that powers America,” Kaptur said in a press release. “By investing in workforce development, innovative energy technologies and manufacturing processes, and responsible stewardship of our precious Great Lakes ecosystem – the Great Lakes Authority will unleash the Heartland’s full potential for this 21st century.”

Per the bill, the GLA would promote the region’s economic interests, including protecting the Great Lakes, advancing the workforce, financing clean energy and green infrastructure, and expanding the manufacturing and industrial capabilities of the region.

On Thursday, Rep. Kaptur (D-OH) introduced the Great Lakes Authority Act to establish and fund the GLA. Co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Joe Morelle (D-NY) and Haley Stevens (D-MI).

Of the nine sponsors, five of the eight Great Lakes states are represented, with Indiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania missing.

The full text of the bill is available online. It is currently a standalone bill, though the sponsors are working to have it be part of larger legislation, according to Rep. Kaptur’s office.

“We appreciate Congresswoman Kaptur’s leadership in pursuing the development of a Great Lakes Authority,” Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Baiju R. Shah said in the release. “The Authority can be a catalyst to drive regional economic growth, broaden regional prosperity, and protect the world’s largest source of freshwater.”

The Great Lakes Authority Act would provide the GLA with $30 million starting in fiscal year 2023 and $50 million each year after that.

“By creating the Great Lakes Authority, the federal government can now become a partner in the economic restoration of the Great Lakes region,” said American Great Lakes Ports Association Executive Director Steve Fisher.

The GLA would be composed of nine people – a chairperson appointed by the president and approved by the Senate, and one individual from each of the eight Great Lakes states appointed by the governor of that state. Members will serve five-year terms.

The GLA would also be required to submit reports to Congress on its regional development plan, would be required to consult with other federal agencies, and it would be subject to appropriations.

The GLA was modeled after regional commissions like the Appalachian Regional Commission, with a key difference – it’s based on watershed rather than by county.

During her Great Lakes Week remarks, Kaptur said she hoped a Great Lakes Authority could invest in technology and other projects that would make it as self-sufficient as other regional authorities like the Tennessee Valley Authority are.

Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

New national authority for Great Lakes region proposed by Ohio Congresswoman

Substantive change will require a ‘massive culture shift’ in federal, state and local agencies

Great Lakes Boat Building School to expand with COVID-19 relief grant funding

Featured image: Lake Superior from Presque Isle Park in Marquette, Mich. (Photo Credit: Zosette Guir/Detroit Public Television)


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