The Affordable Healthcare Act has dominated the news in Northwest Indiana – and everywhere else in the country – but there has been little substantive change so far. That may change in the coming year. While Indiana and many of its lawmakers stand against the expansion of Medicaid, many businesses have an interest in pushing the implementation of the law with the certainty of bringing added federal funds into the system. The whole situation has many in the medical profession preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
While the health care system has received the most attention, there are many more works in progress in the Region. There is a strong push for the long-discussed commuter rail line extensions to Lowell and Valparaiso to finally become a reality. At the Annual Luncheon for One Region, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky challenged us to make this the year it happens. We have until March 14.
Education remains a political flashpoint as well, in spite of the continued, outstanding reputation of many top-level schools and universities that have long been hallmarks of the Region.
Other issues that will be revisited in the short legislative session coming up – including the marriage amendment, changes to the criminal code, wages and labor – are previewed in this issue by experts from both parties, state Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) and state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster), and Times Statehouse Bureau Chief Dan Carden.
In this issue, we take a look at what’s happened in the arts, entertainment and cultural world this year, through the eyes of regional arts chief John Cain.
Diane Poulton, with the help of Dean White and Charlie Blum, takes a look at the economic driving force of our first and biggest venue, the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, which has been bringing big performers and shows to this area for more than 30 years. And parking is still free!
The growth and strength of the One Region initiative progressed again in 2013. Under the leadership of Executive Director Dennis Rittenmeyer, the organization has added a working group for public safety and launched a series of working meetings to address key issues in the area. The organization continues to find solutions and opportunities within the challenges facing the Region. I want to thank all of the leaders and participants in One Region for embracing the vision of this group.
In conclusion, let me state that The Times continues to thrive as a media company, and we are proud to be a top performer in an industry that is well-known for the challenges it faces. We believe our success is bolstered by our tradition of involvement and leadership in the Region, and we will strive to serve you better in the coming year.
We look forward to a prosperous 2014 safe in the knowledge that despite whatever uncertainties lie ahead, the spirit of cooperation and partnership in Northwest Indiana give us an edge and enhances the quality of life for everyone.
The Times Media Co.