State Senator Karen
Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, told a packed room at Chesterton Town Hall Saturday
that she “will do whatever she can to get [House Bill 1247] killed” in the
If passed into law,
the bill would allow the DNR to have alcohol at state parks without approval
from local Alcoholic Beverage Commissions.
Tallian came to
Chesterton for her yearly town hall discussion of happenings in the Indiana
General Assembly where she stated clearly her opposition towards the bill
that would bypass local control and allow alcohol at the Dunes Pavilion.
“My vote is no. You
don’t have to send my any more letters. My vote is going to be no,” Tallian
Close to 60
residents attended the forum which also included State Reps. Chuck Moseley,
D-Portage, and Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.
Tallian said bills
like HB 1247 come about when “somebody doesn’t get what they want and turns
to the legislature.” A representative for Pavilion Partners LLC spoke in
favor of the bill during the House’s Public Policy Committee hearing in
January. PP LLC sought a liquor permit for the Dunes Pavilion, which was
voted down last fall by both the Porter County Alcoholic Beverage Board and
the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
The bill is being
co-sponsored by Tallian’s colleague Sen. James Arnold, D-LaPorte, who she
said wants it passed to get alcohol sales at the inn at Potato Creek State
Pelath said it
“bothers” him to see “somebody try to make a bundle” through deals with the
State. The bill passed the floor 58-38 but garnered some Republican
opposition, he noted, because it “just didn’t pass the smell test.”
The three lawmakers
gave the audience advice on how to fight HB 1247. Moseley said to him, it’s
“a matter of math.” The bill could be defeated by getting a majority of six
senators on the Public Policy Committee, or 26 senators on the Senate floor.
If it goes to the Governor’s desk, the opposition then would only need to
convince one person -- Gov. Mike Pence.
“I agree we need to
continue fight. It’s a fight where you have to be relentless,” Moseley said.
Opponents of HB
1247 should be encouraged that new laws allowing changes in alcohol sales
typically don’t make it all the way through the Assembly.
Tallian said the
bill could die if the Committee chair Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, decides
not to hear the bill.
From the audience,
Dunes Action member Pam Rearick said she’s contacted Alting’s office and was
told that the committee will hear the bill on Feb. 24 or maybe even earlier,
on Feb. 17.
The bill could end
up in a conference committee if lawmakers decide they don’t want to agree on
it, said Pelath, who mentioned that he would be able to appoint someone to
Council member Sylvia Graham, D-at large, said she dislikes the bill because
it “takes away home rule” by bypassing the ATC’s process and the fact that
the DNR allowed Pavilion Partners to have a lease for only $18,000 in rent
“Why did they take
the deal at $18,000? That’s peanuts! That’s almost an insult,” said Graham.
Tallian agreed saying “you can’t get warehouse space for that price
The DNR’s budget
has been slashed considerably in recent years, Tallian said, which is why
they have sought a private group to renovate the Pavilion. She said she has
been told that upgrading the pavilion had been set quite low on the DNR’s
list of priority projects.
lawmakers, including herself, passed a bill in 2012 to allow the sale of
alcohol at the Dunes Pavilion because they were told that no one would be
interested in putting up a bid to revamp the Pavilion unless liquor could be
received no opposition then, Tallian said. She objects to the Pavilion
Partners’ deal, because “it was done in a vacuum.”
Comments from the
audience included Valparaiso resident Jeff Cefali who thanked Pelath and
Moseley for speaking against the bill during the House’s hearing for HB
Before the HB 1247
discussion, the panel discussed other hot-button issues such as funding road
projects, LGBT civil rights language and the economy.
Even with measures
like Right-To-Work and the repeal of the common construction wage act which
were said to help drive jobs in Indiana, Moseley said there are companies
who are leaving Indiana. This past week, the Carrier manufacturing plant in
Indianapolis has decided to move its offices to Mexico, which will end up
eliminating 1,400 jobs. United Technologies Electronic Controls in
Huntington will be moving to Mexico as well, losing 700 jobs, and Alcoa is
eliminating 600 jobs.
“We don’t seem to
be going forward, but backward,” Moseley said.
Meanwhile, it looks
like the LGBT rights bill may not get passed as there are some Senate
Republicans who feel the bill grants more than they are comfortable with
while senators who support LGBT cause feel it doesn’t grant enough, Tallian
Democrats were in harmony however over a bill that would toughen penalties
against perpetrators of hate crimes, Tallian said. The Senate this past week
passed Senate Bill 220 that gives judges authority to impose stronger
sentences against those who commit criminal acts based on prejudices against
sexual orientation, race, gender and religion.
that the Religious Freedom Act has an “inarguably harmful” impact on the
state, with reports of visitors and consumers deciding not to give their
business to Indiana. He said the state has to learn that society’s view on
LGBT rights has changed but there are some lawmakers who are “just not
comfortable discussing it.”
In other matters,
Tallian told the audience that she was able to add an amendment to one bill
that has been in the news lately -- SB 336 -- regarding the option for
counties to eliminate their recycling and waste reduction districts. The
bill originally proposed that the districts could be eliminated by a
two-member majority vote of a county commissioner board.
Tallian said her
amendment now requires a majority of both the commissioners and the county
council and that an alternative plan for recycling must be presented along
with a public hearing before the votes are held.
The bill appeals
more to counties in Indianapolis and Ft. Wayne, which do not utilize their
districts much, rather than counties like Porter, she said.
Pelath, who is the
House Minority Leader, talked about the arguments surrounding HB 1001 -- the
bill that would increase funding for local roads by, as it stands now,
increasing the tax on gas and cigarettes,
The Democrats have
advocated using a percent of the state’s sales tax on gasoline which a
survey found would be “generally palatable” to residents, Pelath said.
The Senate is
debating the gas tax increase and its long term effects. Pelath said he is
confident that a decision will be made.
“The roads are our
number one economic strategy. It helps give education to a skilled
workforce, streets, police and consumer growth,” he said.
Moseley and Pelath
said that even though this is a short session, it is one of the most
contentious years for the Statehouse.
“It has its share
of peculiarities. For instance, we have Republicans arguing for tax
increases in an election year,” Pelath said.