The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

February 25, 2014

Vote delayed on mass transit bill

INDIANAPOLIS — A mass transit bill, which could lead to a tax increase in Madison County, will be considered today in the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee.

Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, heard testimony Monday on Senate Bill 176. It would enable several central Indiana counties, including Madison, to set up mass-transit programs. Brown decided to postpone a vote on the bill and several amendments until today to allow the Republican caucus time to discuss changes.

If the amendments are passed, the bill won’t look like the original one passed by the Senate last week. Proposed amendments would put the option for light rail back in the bill, take Hendricks County out of the list of counties and find some way to encourage corporations to lend money to the program.

The Senate version allowed for a voter referendum for mass transit funding in Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Madison and Marion counties.

The House Roads and Transportation Committee stripped out language that originally had businesses paying 10 percent of the cost of a transit system. That committee had also added Hendricks County to the bill.

Rep. Gerald Torr, R-Carmel, the house sponsor of SB 176, said a proposed amendment would try to find a way to get some of that money back in without putting too much of a burden on corporations.

Torr was also in favor of adding light rail back into the bill as a transit option for communities to choose, if voters want to go that route.

“The prohibition of light rail takes away options for communities,” Torr said. “I don’t think it is a big deal if we put it back in.”

He said that the high cost of light rail makes it unlikely communities would opt for it, but he thought it was good to provide that option.

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