Archive for March 14th, 2006

Send-off for our retiring colleagues

Last night, both the House Democratic Caucus and the House Republican Caucus hosted dinners honoring their retiring members.

The Democrats gathered at Iaria’s, a small Italian restaurant on the near east side of Indianapolis, to pay tribute to Representatives Ben GiaQuinta (Fort Wayne), John Aguilera (East Chicago), and Tom Kromkowski (South Bend).

Representative GiaQuinta, a veteran of World War II who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was accompanied by his son, Mark, and his wife, Helen.

giaquinta

Representative Aguilera, who was joined by his wife, is the only Hispanic member of the House of Representatives. John is leaving the Legislature, but I imagine he will stay involved in public service back in Lake County.

aguilera

Finally, Representative Kromkowski is retiring after 25 years of service in the House of Representatives. The long-time UAW member is possibly the longest-serving member of the House Labor Committee.

kromkowski

It was good getting everyone together to wish our friends the best in their retirement. I know we will all definitely miss their experience and the unique perspectives they have brought to the General Assembly.

iarias dinner

Add comment March 14th, 2006

Last day of session is deadline for Major Moves

Proponents of the Governor’s plan to lease the Indiana Toll Road often say Northern Indiana residents should support the plan because it could allow for the construction of an upgraded US 31 from South Bend to Indianapolis.

However, there is no plan in place to build a new US 31 – the Governor already canceled the few construction plans that existed, and now there are only vague promises.

How vague? Take this Senator’s suggestion on how to show progress on US 31 if Major Moves passes the Legislature:

“…[T]o show there is a positive side of all this thing. We’ve got to have some groundbreaking somewhere.”

He suggested the state could start on U.S. 31.

“I told them to go up there and dump a truckload of sand and take a bulldozer and shove it this way today and shove it back that way tomorrow,” Meeks said. “Do something, at least, that will be showin’ them that we’re doing some work.”

The final vote on HB 1008 – the authorizing legislation for major Moves must take place by midnight tonight. A draft “compromise” version of a conference committee report that I have read does little to change the bill, and takes out many of the amendments that were originally passed by the House. The main points I noticed were:

- An extra $10 million to each Toll Road county
- The option for LaPorte County to join the Lake/Porter RDA (in exchange for less money)
- Removal of the toll-freeze language (discount for I-PASS users)
- Removal of any north-east or north-central RDA
- I-69 as a toll road from Evansville to Martinsville, but no tolls from Martinsville to Indianapolis
- Possibly the ability for INDOT to give large chunks of land at I-69 interchanges to any future leaseholder

Of course, the final version of the conference committee report could still change at any point today.

Add comment March 14th, 2006


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