House speaker Brian Bosma calls the summer study committees the “work horses” of the Legislature.
At times, their work may seem futile.
Five years ago, just as Indiana’s casinos were beginning to realize the threat of competition from other states, a study committee on public policy urged the Legislature to authorize land-based gaming and other changes to keep Indiana’s riverboat casinos afloat. Its pleas were ignored, and the state has since seen a plunge in gaming proceeds. Last year’s casino tax revenues were more than $120 million less than in 2009.
That has produced enough of a jolt that gaming revenues are back on the study committees’ agenda this summer, along with other tax revenue issues. They include Gov. Mike Pence’s controversial proposal to eliminate the $1 billion revenue stream for local governments and schools from the state’s business personal property tax.
Some study issues may produce a yawn among the uninformed, but they’re critical to consider.
An example from Karickhoff: The potential need for a statewide “czar” to manage Indiana’s abundant water resources that are now threatened by pollution, rising demand and wrangling over the question of public or private ownership.
“How we manage our water resources should be everybody’s concern,” Karickhoff said.
This summer, he’ll have a chance to make that case.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden.