The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

State News

February 25, 2014

Mass transit moves on to Indiana House


The Mass Transit bill, which could bring an extensive mass transit system to Madison County and other nearby counties, passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee early Tuesday morning with a 17-1 vote.

Four amendments were discussed by the committee Monday, but none were voted on after a GOP caucus.

Committee Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said he would like to see any proposed amendments discussed before the entire House instead of in committee.

"We're not putting any amendments in until it goes before the entire House," Brown said.

Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, said this bill gives Madison County residents a chance to determine what they want to do in regard to mass transit. She said she thinks some type of system would be good for the county and is something that is needed.

"It's going to be up to the voters to decide," Austin said. "Obviously we need to see a proposed plan, but I think it will be a good thing."

One of the proposed amendments would allow light rail to be an option for a transit system at the discretion of the counties, which include Madison County. The light rail option was taken out when the bill was going through the Senate.

Another amendment would take Hendricks County off the list of eligible counties. Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, is the original author of the bill. She said Hendricks County was originally left off the list, then amended into the list and now she said a Hendricks County legislator wants the county back off.

Lawmakers will also discuss ways to better fund the program. The bill's original language had large businesses paying 10 percent of the mass transit costs because they would not be affected by tax increases. That 10 percent clause was taken out, but an amendment could be offered that would encourage businesses to invest in the transit system.

Miller said she thought it was important to Senate members to have large businesses responsible for at least some of the funding.

The bill will be available for second reading in the House Wednesday.

If passed it will have to go to a concurrence committee to iron out the differences between the Senate and House version of the bill.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.



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