Video & story: Pence signs regional cities legislation

Pence signs Regional Cities bill into law from TheStatehouseFile.com on Vimeo.

By Erika Brock
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Wednesday that he said would have a “transformational effect” on the state by establishing the Regional City Initiative.

The Republican governor, who made the effort part of his agenda, said the initiative will “encourage collaboration among Hoosier communities to develop ways to bolster investment, attract talent, and continue Indiana on a pathway to economic growth and success.”

The law creates a grant program that enables neighboring communities to work together as a region to promote economic development, quality of life and help attract talent and investment.

Pence said that Hoosiers should think regionally to help the entire state reach its full potential.

The General Assembly allocated $85 million for the program in the next two-year state budget, which Pence plans to sign into law on Thursday. That money will come from a state amnesty program that’s authorized in the state budget.

But that’s just one time funding. Pence said the tax amnesty will simply jumpstart the initiative and he didn’t say where future funding might come from. But he said it was important to have the money to get the program launched.

Participating communities would also be required to use the money to leverage other public and private investments in areas that drive economic development.

“This legislation provides our communities with the necessary framework to continue fostering economic growth and development,” said Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso. “I look forward to seeing the positive impact these projects will have on Hoosiers.”

In addition to House Bill 1403, Pence also signed a number of bills into law that were on his agenda.

  • HB 1303 provides highly-skilled professionals a voluntary alternative to licensing, eliminates arbitrary barriers to employment, and reduces costs for consumers by giving them the information they need to make better choices about services they buy and people they hire.
  • SB 441 simplifies the tax code to reduce the paperwork burden for Hoosiers and incentivize investment in Indiana.
  • SB 412 requires electric utilities to file energy efficiency plans with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission meant to ensure more affordable and reliable energy for Hoosiers.

Erika Brock is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a new website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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