Casino, soccer stadium legislation amended with final vote looming

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 24, 2015) - Two hot-button issues will be up for a vote on the House floor Wednesday, the last day for House lawmakers to consider the bills.

Among the issues still to decide- the bill that would let the Indy Eleven capture some of its own tax revenue to pay for a new $82 million dollar soccer stadium.

The bill was amended Tuesday with a provision that would require the team or league to guarantee half the debt on the project.

"The purpose of the amendment is simply to make sure that the public is not left to foot the bill for an underused or empty stadium," said the amendment’s author, state Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis.

"We’ll talk (Wednesday) about the finances of the stadium and making sure that state taxpayers are at mitigated risk," said the author of the bill, state Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers. "It's important to all of us."

Tuesday the House also heard amendments on this year's casino bill after Speaker Brian Bosma took that legislation off the calendar on Monday.

He told reporters he thought the bill “needed some work” and Tuesday lawmakers passed two amendments, aimed at making the bill more palatable to lawmakers and to local casino communities.

At first, lawmakers took out a provision allowing live table games at Indiana's race track casinos, then they put that provision back in the bill.

Some lawmakers expressed concerns about the effect the bill could have on Indiana's casino towns.

“We do not want to put those little towns and counties using this for economic development, we do not want to harm them in any way,” said state Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon.

“We have to concentrate on what is good for the overall state, not just for his area or my area, what is good for the state of Indiana?” asked state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary.

Still, lawmakers wondered if the bill would have the eventual support of Governor Mike Pence, who would have to sign the bill into law. Pence has expressed reluctance in the past for anything that might amount to an expansion of gambling in Indiana, and lawmakers say Pence has worked behind-the-scenes to voice his disapproval of the idea to add live table games at the racinos.

"They view it as an expansion of gaming," said Brown. "I think that’s unfortunate."

Lawmakers in the House will make their final votes on both issues Wednesday, the last day for the House to vote on bills before sending them to the Senate.

Meantime, the bill legalizing Sunday alcohol sales was not added to Wednesday’s calendar for a final vote, after the author publicly said he did not have enough votes to pass the bill.

Other hot-button bills were killed altogether Tuesday, including a controversial bill on solar energy and a bill that would have legalized speed cameras here in Indiana.