Indiana Chamber-supported SB 506 (County Government Reorganization – Sen. Phil Boots) passed the Senate Local Government Committee 6-5 after being amended. It will now head to the Senate floor.
Those voting with the Chamber in support were: Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville), Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield), Travis Holdman (R-Markle), Connie Lawson (R-Danville), Sue Landske (R-Cedar Lake) and Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago).
Those against were: Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), Jim Buck (R-Kokomo), Tim Lanane (D-Anderson), Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) and Richard Young (D-Milltown).
This bill reorganizes structure of county government to one of two models – either a single county executive (instead of three commissioners) with the legislative duties transferred to the county council or having a combined county commission that would have a county manager to carry out the county executive duties. It also makes changes to locally originated reorganization procedures and creates the Office of Local Government Technical Assistance.
This will be the first Kernan-Shepard bill to go to the Senate floor, after a long and difficult committee hearing. The bill was changed with two added amendments. The first one stripped the original bill and added an additional county government model that resembles a town board and a mechanism for local choice to be made. It allows a two-week period for the current county commissioners to make one of three choices: 1) select the Kernan-Shepard model of county government with a single county executive and transfer legislative duties to the county council, 2) opt for a more rural county model with a five-person council that hires a county manager or 3) simply do nothing. If the county commissioners do nothing, it triggers a voter referendum for them to make the choice between the two options. The second amendment exempted Lake County from the bill.
The Indiana Chamber organized supporting testimony and appreciates the many people from around the state who came to testify in support of various aspects of the bill. This will be very contentious in the full Senate, with many anticipated amendments to change its applicability. Moreover, many legislators feel that "their" county government is just fine and don’t see the need to change.
Call your Senator NOW at (800) 382-9467 to let them know you support SB 506 in its current form. The bill is scheduled for a second reading on the Senate floor today.