LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) - For the first time in State Capitol history, a commercial business may be allowed inside the building to provide food to Capitol occupants.
Room 54, on the bottom of the state Capitol, used to be the House press room, but soon the name of 'Tim Horton' will be on the walls. Those walls will be taken out and in the room, seats will be set up for school kids, lobbyists and lawmakers to purchase some coffee and donuts, but the move is creating some controversy.
"What's next? Are we going to be called the Chick-fil-A Capitol?" asks Senator Gretchen Whitmer.
The Tim Hortons Company has been dealing with the Commission for the Blind, which has exclusive rights to sell food in state buildings. If the deal is consummated, not only will the company come into Room 54, but it would take over the restaurant area in the House office building right across the street from the coffee shop, which raises some questions.
"We've always been opposed to unfair competition or government competition with the private sector," said Rob Fowler, the CEO of the Small Business Association. "The more we know, the more it looks like that is going on."
The governor's office is concerned about this proposed contract, given its desire to promote Michigan businesses and Tim Hortons is Canadian owned.
"We're really trying to promote Michigan and in the Michigan Capitol and Michigan taxpayers paying for this. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me," said Whitmer.
But Rep. John Walsh says he's excited by the possibility. "I would love a U.S. firm to have every opportunity, but the Canadian firm is an international business that operates throughout our country. It hires U.S. citizens, provides services we care about. I'm not nervous about that," said Walsh.
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