Senate Bill 585 brings some necessary reforms to Lake County -- changing the makeup of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority; requiring studies of the need for a trauma center, an academic medical center and a new port in Gary; and more. Left undone is the income tax necessary to make Lake County able to pay its bills.
Sen. Ed Charbonneau's legislation, not yet signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, rolled a number of major Lake County issues into a single bill. It's good that it passed.
The study on adding an additional Lake Michigan port is urgent. Gary Mary Karen Freeman-Wilson is pushing for this port to be built in Gary.
The existing port in Portage is completely developed, so adding another port in Gary would allow for continued development of maritime commerce, with an eye toward intermodal shipping.
The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority studies on the need for a new trauma center and on an academic medical center -- not necessarily a teaching hospital -- address two long-standing health needs in the region. The studies should move the region closer to a solution.
Revamping the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority means ensuring the board members have the appropriate expertise to guide the development of the airport. New qualifications will include at least five years of professional work experience in aviation management at an executive level, regional economic development, or business or finance. The governor's appointee will serve as chairman.
This is similar to the stringent requirements for board members when the RDA was created.
Left undone in the legislation is the creation and distribution of a Lake County income tax. It isn't popular, but it's necessary.
It's up to lake County Councilwoman Christine Cid, the swing vote, to make this happen so not just the county, but also its communities, can provide necessary services.
More money for these communities could be used to pay down debt, among other uses.
This unfinished business not included in the final version of SB 585 must be addressed by the County Council.