County officials travel to State House to express concern over house bill PDF Print E-mail

By Monika Spaulding
Special Correspondent

When word made it to the local level about a bill going before the house that would have a direct impact on Washington County, it didn’t take long for county leaders to put a plan in place.


HB 1540 is a bill dealing with casinos and river boat funds. The way the bill was originally written there was potential for county money, received through Harrison County’s casino, to be cut, impacting local revenue.

On Tuesday morning, county councilmen Jonathan Spaulding, Todd Ewen, Frank Nobles and Ben Bowling, along with commissioners Preston Shell and Phillip Marshall and county auditor Randall Bills headed to Indianapolis to express their concern of the proposed bill.

“County officials really do monitor the bills in both chambers,” said Bills. “We analyze what’s going on and express our views when we know how it’s going to affect us.”

He said many people don’t realize that county officials are working with these bills on a day-to-day basis.

“We don’t want something to pass that will be a burden to everyone,” he said, adding that not only are the elected officials in Washington County working together, but he also received phone calls from both Harrison and Crawford County officials about HB 1540.

“I think it’s good we took the time to go to Indianapolis and let them know we care.”

Bills said he is a firm believer of the term, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”

And in this case, that may be what happened.

According to Spaulding, who is the current president of the county council, HB 1540 was amended before it was passed, leaving out any of the harmful language that would impact revenue.

“There are still some concerns about how this bill will play out, but it’s much better than it was originally,” he said.

Both State Senator Erin Houchin and State Representative Steve Davisson were in support of making the amendments to benefit the counties they represent.

“Representative Davisson and I have been working closely on this issue throughout the session with others who represent boat counties,” said Houchin. “When we received the fiscal impact, I was naturally very concerned. Our local communities have come to rely on this funding, for better or worse, and we can’t allow the rug to be pulled out from underneath us.

“This is a fight, however, that Steve and I cannot tackle alone. I was so pleased to see our local delegation at the State House at a critical point in the session. I have no doubt that their presence and efforts helped get a better bill out of the House. Now, the bill will move to the Senate where we still have work to do. I will work vigorously to further mitigate the impact. I will need help from our local elected officials in the process, and it is reassuring to know they will be there.”