Reporting Tim Skubick
LANSING (WWJ) - History could be made at the state Capitol, but it doesn’t involve any laws.
For the first time in Michigan history, a commercial business might be allowed inside the state Capitol to sell goods and merchandise.
Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop is currently negotiating for the right to do just that. Representatives from restaurant chain are in talks with the Commission for the Blind, which has rights to sell food in state buildings.
Some lawmakers, like Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, think if any business is allowed to operate inside the Capitol, it should be one that is actually based in the state – not in Canada.
“We’re really trying to promote Michigan, and in Michigan’s Capitol with Michigan taxpayers paying for this, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” Whitmer, the Senate Democratic Leader, told WWJ Lansing Chief Tim Skubick.
Whitmer said if the deal with Tim Hortons is approved, she’s worried about what would follow.
“What’s next? Are we going to be called the Chick-fil-A Capitol? You know, are we going to start selling rights to naming things that we all own as taxpayers,” Whitmer continued.
The business community is also raising questions about the possibility of allowing a franchise inside the Capitol building.
Rob Fowler, a lobbyist for the Small Business Association, said the move could bring unfair competition.
“We’ve always been opposed to unfair competition or government competition with the private sector and that’s what we’re going to be looking at in relation to this issue,” he said.
If a deal is approved, Tim Hortons could move into a former state House press room that would be converted into a restaurant, according to the Associated Press.