Hoosier families deserve our absolute best—that is what my service in the Indiana General Assembly is all about. We have been through a lot this past year. While this session has been vastly different, my priority to residents of St. Joseph County remains the same.
Lifting up our community is personal to me. My family owns a small plumbing business that has served our community for nearly 100 years. I raised my kids here. I started my political journey in St. Joseph County to give back to the community that has given so much to my family. Through new and dynamic reinvestment opportunities, our community continues to grow and prosper.
Action speaks louder than words. I authored and co-authored three pieces of legislation this session that prioritize St. Joseph County and will assist in continuing to move our community forward, especially as we work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill 164, co-authored with Senators Mishler and Rogers, gives authority to our County fiscal body to raise our current six percent Hotel/Motel tax by two percent. This will boost revenue by an additional two million dollars annually, allowing for investment in local projects that will further promote tourism and economic development. Specifically, this legislation will fund a sports complex in Mishawaka, modernize the Morris Performing Arts Center, and support the 21st Century Capital Improvement Plan at Potawatomi Zoo.
Additionally, a Capital Improvement Investment Fund is established that I refer to as our own local “Regional Cities Plan”.
As a native of South Bend, I often imagine what our early days were like. As commerce began to flourish along the St. Joseph River during formative years, what thoughts filled the minds of our forefathers? My hope is that our predecessors would deem these legislative accomplishments milestones of measurable growth. My roots run deep within our community and I carry that community pride with me each time I step into the Statehouse.
With the same passion and focus on our community, I co-authored Senate Bill 384. This bill renews the South Bend Professional Sports and Convention Development Area (PSCDA) for the next 20 years. This legislation will secure a portion of state sales taxes and keep them in our community to reinvest $2 million per year locally, rather than down state. These strategic reinvestments will primarily be directed to further enhance Four Winds Field and its surrounding footprint. South Bend Cubs owner Andrew Berlin has made his intention to remain active in South Bend noticeably clear. Partnering with him for the renewal of the PSCDA was pure common sense.
Senate Bill 356, now House Bill 1055, also lands directly within the heart of our community. This proposal places in Indiana law the Compact between the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and the State of Indiana. It establishes another level of gaming rights at the South Bend Casino. It will ensure the further expansion of the South Bend Four Winds Casino and the completion of the hotel and spa project. This trio of bills will all work to enhance the mission of bringing greater tourism and economic activity to our community.
It was moving to listen to Tribal Chairman Matt Wesaw describe during his testimony how this legislation will help better the daily lives of Tribal members of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. It was my distinct honor to co-author this Compact with Senators Mishler and Rogers.
A common thread is sewn through the legislation laid out above. Resonating throughout is good public policy with no hint of partisanship. As a legislator, it is my greatest honor and duty to always do my best to serve the needs of all the residents of St. Joseph County. I will continue to advocate for local businesses, future growth initiatives and for the men and women who live and work in our community. I’m especially grateful for the unwavering community support which played a vital role in making these efforts possible. I will continually reach across the aisle to work with legislators who desire to do the same. I have never forgotten where I come from and I never will.