Local lawmakers champion South Shore extension bill

Posted by: Kelly Sweeney  | Wednesday, February 11, 2015 8:00 am

STATEHOUSE – State Representative Hal Slager (R-Schererville) authored House Bill (HB) 1618 which would provide state matching grants to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) for certain projects. Co-authored by State Representative Ed Soliday (R- Valparaiso), HB 1618 passed unanimously out of the Roads and Transportation Committee and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration and debate.

“These matching grants would give the RDA the resources necessary to extend certain projects without raising taxes or looking for alternate funding streams,” said Rep. Slager. “Many individuals in northwest Indiana commute to Chicago for work and entertainment, and it is my hope that these grants provide the opportunity to further develop these lines, which will bring more people and businesses to our area of the state.”

HB 1618 will create a program that will provide matching grants to the RDA for projects that will extend the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railway. It will also require the RDA to make certain commitments in order to receive the grant such as devoting the full appropriation to the projects and submitting an annual progress report to the Office of Management Budget every July.

“A major part of this bill is about accountability and ensuring that the dollars allocated would support these projects that have a substantial impact on our local economy,” said Rep. Soliday. “These railroad lines are an invaluable asset to our area, especially for potential business growth, and I look forward to providing the RDA the means to continue providing this service, without raising taxes.”

The measure will also require a return of investment analysis for each project in addition to a review of grant applications by the Budget Committee and approval by the Budget Agency.

Visit www.iga.in.gov for more information on HB 1618.

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Rep. Slager (R-Schererville) represents portions of Lake County. Rep. Slager serves on the Ways and Means Committee and the Public Health Committee.

Rep. Soliday (R-Valparaiso) represents the city of Valparaiso, all of Center, Union and Washington townships and portions of Liberty and Jackson townships.