[r15] Local lawmakers champion South Shore extension bill

Posted by: Lindsay Devlin  | Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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 out of the House unanimously.

“Making the South Shore accessible to more communities in northwest Indiana would provide a cost-effective means of travel to Chicago, which could boost our local economy,” said Rep. Slager.  “This is an effective solution to connect more Hoosiers with the 9th largest economy in the world, all without having to raise taxes.”

HB 1618 will create a program that would 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.

“In northwest Indiana, many residents that work in Chicago, or travel there for entertainment, rely on the South Shore. Not only is this railway a major investment in our economy, but also crucial to quality of life in our area, and we must protect and support that investment. Under this bill, we can ensure that the dollars allocated  to the  RDA, through a matching grant program for local communities, would go towards expanding these projects, which will create more opportunities and strengthen our local economy,” said Rep. Soliday.

The measure will also require a return of investment analysis for each project, 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.