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Senate passes Griffith secession bill

A welcome Griffith sign greets travelers intersectiAvenue H Broad Street southern entrance Griffith Ind. Tuesday April 2 2013.  |

A welcome to Griffith sign greets travelers at the intersection of Avenue H and Broad Street at a southern entrance to Griffith, Ind. Tuesday April 2, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~ for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 6, 2013 6:22AM



INDIANAPOLIS — The Griffith secession bill, which requires Calumet Township to reduce its poor relief tax collection to less than 12 times the state average, passed the Senate with 36-12 vote.

One Democratic senator, Frank Mrvan, Jr. of Hammond, voted in favor of the bill.

The current bill would require the township for one year to reduce its poor relief spending. After that, the state would intervene to reduce the costs to the state average.

If the state still can’t lower the cost of the poor tax relief, then Griffith could begin a process to redraw its political boundaries.

Sen. Brant Hershman, R-Buck Creek, explained the bill offers the township a chance to fix the problem.

“Who are we protecting with this bill? We’re protecting the taxpayer and the voter’s faith in their government to self monitor their behavior,” Hershman said. “We’re giving the township an opportunity to heal themselves.”

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Hammond, said she questioned the logic of allowing a town to leave a township, which could cause havoc for organizing land plats and districts set by townships.

“Does that mean I have to re-plat my property if I want to sell it?” Tallian said, “Do we have to correct property descriptions all over an entire township?”

She added that the state has a number of ways to influence a government body to fix the problem besides offering to redraw the political boundaries.

Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, said he represents Calumet but had no input into the bill. He criticized the concept that could hurt the poor living in Calumet Township.

Mrvan said he supported the bill after hearing statistics on the township’s costs compared to other townships in the region. He supported the idea that the state could step in and investigate any potential abuse in Calumet township, or identify if there’s a serious need for help.

“I’m very sensitive to what happens in my neighborhood,” he said. “There have been problems for a long time, and I think this is a chance for us to bring this to a closure. It’s time for us to do something.”

The bill will head to a conference committee before it goes to the governor’s desk.



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