Apr 1, 2008

HEA 1220 - Regional Development (South Shore Rail extension)

Synopsis: Regional development. Requires the commission on state tax and financing policy to study state and local funding alternatives for the South Shore West Lake extension.

Each word of this legislation stands to be worth tens of millions dollars each. What appears rather innocuous represents the first step in formalizing a move toward expansion of the South Shore Railway in Lake and Porter Counties.

The few sentences that authorize the House Tax and Finance Committee to study ways to finance this project comes with an emergency order and a report due by November 1, 2008.

As bad as it is, it could have been worse. The original House Bill:

Regional development. Establishes a transportation tax area for the territory within Lake County and Porter County. Provides for an allocation to the transportation tax area from the state gross retail and use taxes collected from the counties. Requires the development board of the northwest Indiana regional development authority to use the allocation for projects related to the West Lake line. Establishes a transportation tax area for the territory within LaPorte County and St. Joseph County. Provides for an allocation to the transportation tax area from the state gross retail and use taxes collected from the counties. Requires the board of trustees of the Northwest Indiana Commuter Transportation District to use the tax allocation for certain rail improvement projects in South Bend and Michigan City. Requires a city or county that participates in the northwest Indiana Regional development authority to remain a member for at least 10 years. Prescribes the terms for withdrawing from the development authority. Makes an appropriation.

In the end, it was trimmed down to authorizing a study. The rest of this will come next year. House passed 97-1; Senate passed 47-0. The lone dissent was Rep. Fry.

Read what the Chesterton Tribune writes on the subject.

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