Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Local lawmakers say NICTD bill needs more discussion

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Once news about House Bill 1450 surfaced at Friday’s Northwest Indiana Commuter Transportation District board meeting, local state lawmakers were asked at Saturday’s Porter County Retired Teachers Association’s legislative forum to give their opinion on the bill which would replace NICTD’s County representatives from Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph with that of city mayors.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said the bill has been assigned to the House’s Transportation committee which he chairs and said compromises may come out of discussions with colleagues. He said he has not decided on whether he will give the bill a hearing but said there are a few facts that need to be considered. According to Soliday, 80 percent of South Shore riders are from Lake County while about 16 percent hail from Porter County, 2 or 3 percent are from LaPorte County, and about one percent are riders from St. Joseph County. “There is an issue of basic fairness,” Soliday said.

The bill, authored by state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, proposes a board that would have four Lake County mayors. Porter County’s Portage and Valparaiso mayors would be represented and two mayors in LaPorte and St. Joseph counties.

The reason the number of Lake County passengers is growing is in part due to the collapse of its bus systems, said Soliday. Many of the objections so far, Soliday said, stem from the fact that counties were not consulted before the bill was filed.

While rendering no opinion of the bill, Soliday said, “The bottom line is we need to work through this. Discussion needs to take place.”

Fellow state Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, agreed that further discussions are needed and once the involved parties start listening to each other, agreements can be made. “You’ll be able to find something decent you can get out of it.”

State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, said a lot of work is needed on the bill but it is important “to make sure there is some bipartisan discussion” to come up with a reasonable solution.

State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said the bill could take many forms before it reaches the Senate where it could be amended in a way officials feel board membership and voting would be equal.

 

 

Posted 1/28/2013