2014 Indiana General Assembly

Brown effort may give Lake Council control of tourism spending

2014-02-28T16:45:00Z 2014-02-28T22:34:05Z Brown effort may give Lake Council control of tourism spendingBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
February 28, 2014 4:45 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, has proven once again that anything is possible at the Indiana General Assembly until the moment the annual legislative session is gaveled closed.

His proposal to require the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority to have its budget approved by the Lake County Council, which did not advance out of a House committee in January, was inserted Thursday into House Bill 1380 by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"I was able to get some friendly Republicans to understand and appreciate what has occurred up here, and they agreed with me that the manner in which the (SSCVA) has been running of late is not very good," Brown said.

He cited plans by Speros Batistatos, president of the county tourism agency, to move the South Shore Air Show from its traditional location at Gary's Miller Beach to Fair Oaks Farms, 40 miles away in Newton County, along with Bartistatos' "braggadocio style."

Under the plan, the SSCVA would submit its proposed budget each year to the Lake County Council for review and approval. The tourism agency could not spend any money that was not authorized by the county council.

"This is just good policy," Brown said. "Most of the tourism and convention bureaus across the state have to submit their budgets to an elected body."

The SSCVA lobbyist, former state Rep. Bob Kuzman, D-Crown Point, did not return a message Friday seeking comment.

He likely will try to remove the budget oversight requirement when the measure goes to a House-Senate conference committee next week, where lawmakers will merge the separately approved versions of the legislation for re-approval by both chambers.

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