State senators this week have some choices to make on the fate House Bill 1011
- the bill that would allow the people of Marion and Hamilton counties to vote separately on whether to support improvements to public transit by raising funds locally.
Will they take a stand in favor of local control?
Will they heed the call of Mayor Greg Ballard and local business concerns, who say the bill is essential to improving the city's economic climate?
Will they hear local pastors, who say the bill is a social justice issue?
Or will the Americans for Prosperity
set succeed in its effort to stop the cost-benefit question of improved mass transit before it can be placed before the people?
Proponents of the plan from various corners of the community started the week by encouraging supporters to call members of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee
. The committee has a hearing on the bill scheduled
for 8 a.m. Tuesday in Statehouse Room 431.
In its call to action, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce cited abundant rumors of an effort to delay action on the Indy Connect
plan by sending the bill to a summer study committee.
"As 1011 heads to the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, it faces an uncertain future," Chamber staff wrote in a Monday newsletter. "Support of 1011 largely relies on proponents building broad support of the Central Indiana legislative delegation, particularly Marion County."
The newsletter also thanked Republican Senators Patricia Miller, Jim Merritt and Michael Crider for sponsoring the bill, but noted that losing Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, as an author increased the bill's uncertain odds for success this session.
Like the Chamber, the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN) is marshaling its forces to rally their legislators as well.
More than 100 IndyCAN members from Senate District 29 are expected to attend a Monday night meeting with local Sen. Mike Delph, according to a news release sent Monday.
The release lists Delph, a member of the tax and fiscal policy committee, as a confirmed visitor at the 7 p.m. meeting at Pilgrim Lutheran Church of Carmel, 3650 W. 106th St.
"Last week, I lost my job because I could not rely on the bus to get me there daily," Adrian Caldwell, an IndyCAN leader and District 29 resident said in the release, underscoring themes echoed by many mass transit advocates that supporting expanded transportation options will help strengthen families by moving people off public support and in to the workforce.
In outlining its support for a revitalized and expanded bus system and passenger rail, the Indy Chamber posted a statement to its website calling regional mass transit "critical" to enabling a mobile workforce, spurring economic development and reducing congestion.
This is a message the Chamber's partners on the Central Indiana Transit Task Force
will be voicing to lawmakers throughout Monday and Tuesday as the Senate tax committee prepares to hear the matter. Other task force members include the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, the Central Indiana Community Foundation, the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors, IndyGo, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority.
"Transit is a win-win proposition for Hamilton and Marion Counties," IndyCAN Pastor Alan Goertemiller of Pilgrim Lutheran Church said in the release. "Hard working families, are at the food pantry, simply because the bus doesn't get them to good jobs. A regional transit system is about a community that pulls together and create opportunity for all."