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Gary state lawmaker sinks land-based casino language

Updated: March 11, 2013 7:05AM



State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, removed land-based casino language from Senate Bill 585 on Friday, which likely ends the project’s prospects for 2013.

Rogers said that she took the proposed casino plans out of the bill to enhance its chances of passing and ease concerns of Gary residents. The bill would change the makeup of the Gary/Chicago International Airport board by increasing the Indiana governor’s appointments to five and giving the governor the selection of the board chairman and veto power over any board decision.

Currently, the governor appoints one person to the seven-member board. Lake and Porter county boards of commissioners each have an appointment, while the Gary mayor chooses four members.

The Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations rallied against the bill last week, particularly the airport board proposal, but the measure also contains other ideas — like creating a trauma center and shipping port in Gary — that could bring jobs to the city.

An amendment restoring the current makeup of the airport board, authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, is scheduled to be voted on in committee on Wednesday, Rogers said.

At the same time, Rogers said, she’s thrown her support behind Senate Bill 528, which would expand the footprint of casinos to land adjacent to a body of water. However, for Gary, that expanded footprint would not reach to the Borman Expressway, where local officials have long envisioned a land-based casino as a tool of economic development.



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