The Michigan House last week approved a bill that will allow Detroit and 40 other local governments to create a new bond-issuing authority to manage their public lighting departments.

HB 5688, introduced by Detroit Rep. Maureen Stapleton, would allow the city, or any other municipality that owns its own utility company, to set up a public authority that could take over the department and sell bonds.

The legislation lets Detroit to advance a plan to establish a five-member board and issue $160 million of bonds backed by utility users’ tax.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing support the measure. The deal still needs Senate approval, and the Detroit City Council would also have to sign off.

Legislators approved the three-bill package only on the third vote after opposition from a public union nearly scuttled it. The measure passed with an amendment that says if the authority hires union members, their contracts come with them, local reports said.

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