INDIANAPOLIS | State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, is betting she can make Gary economic development legislation more palatable by rolling her proposal for a land-based casino into another gaming measure moving through the Senate.
Rogers said Friday she will remove the land-based casino component of Senate Bill 585 and try to insert it into Senate Bill 528 permission for the Majestic Star to move from Lake Michigan to a site adjacent to the Borman Expressway.
And in a move to make the remaining issues in Senate Bill 585 more acceptable to Gary residents, Rogers has promised to maintain the status quo for appointments to the Gary/Chicago Airport Authority.
Senate Bill 528, set for a Thursday hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, allows two central Indiana horse track casinos to use live dealers, permits riverboats to move onto land next to their docks and reduces taxes on all casinos to make Indiana's gambling halls more competitive with neighboring states.
The sponsor of that measure, state Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, said he doesn't want a Gary land-based casino added to his legislation.
"My bill is designed primarily to try to help all the casinos and all the racinos, and I just don't think that's the proper venue to vet that issue," Boots said. "That just changes the whole dynamics of the competitive situation."
Boots said if Rogers wants land-based gaming she should submit legislation on just that topic. He said inserting her proposal into his legislation jeopardizes the possibility he will be able to secure enough votes for it to pass.
"It needs to be separate, discussed separately and debated separately," Boots said.
Senate Bill 585, set for a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Public Policy Committee, also transfers Gary Sanitary District tax revenue to the city and provides for studies of the need for a trauma hospital in Northwest Indiana and the possibility of a second region port in Gary.
As it stands now, Senate Bill 585 would expand the Gary airport authority to 11 members, assigning five appointments to the governor and basically ending Gary's majority control of the board.
Rogers said following discussions with state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, the sponsor of the legislation, an amendment will be introduced to keep the size of the airport authority board and the appointing authorities as they are now, with the mayor of Gary making a majority of the appointments.