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Transit Bill Still Dividing Many In General Assembly

The light rail component of the transit bill is causing disagreement among legislators in the final weeks of the session.

Backers of a mass transit referendum for Marion County and five others in central Indiana have the remaining two weeks of the legislative session to address light rail in the region.

On a voice vote, the House removed a ban on light rail inserted in the Senate. The House is expected to give final approval to the transit bill on Monday, setting up negotiations with the Senate on a final version, with light rail perhaps the thorniest issue.

House sponsor Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) says some senators have told him they won’t vote for the bill if light rail is in it — while others have told them they they won’t vote for it if it isn‘t.

Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) argues limiting the transit referendum to buses would make it harder to get approval from voters. He predicts many voters will conclude there’s no point in paying higher taxes for transit if the state is limiting local officials’ ability to design the program.

And Torr argues it would be years before any light rail construction anyway. He says the plan calls for an initial focus on bus service no matter what.

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