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Senate approves 'baby steps' towards greater oversight of Indiana Economic Development Corporation

Brian Buchanan speaks on the Senate floor. Buchanan is a White man with medium fair hair, wearing a suit and tie.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
Sen. Brian Buchanan (R-Lebanon) is the author of SB 295, which aims to provide greater transparency at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Thursday that, in the words of one Republican, takes “baby steps” towards providing greater transparency at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

SB 295 adds two members of the General Assembly to the IEDC board as non-voting members. And it requires the agency to notify local communities before purchasing at least 100 acres of land.

That’s key to a major reason for the bill — growing concern over the IEDC’s economic development strategy in central Indiana. The agency has bought hundreds of acres to develop its LEAP district, and had planned to potentially move water from Tippecanoe County to supply it.

READ MORE: The LEAP pipeline project has been paused. How much has been spent on the project so far?

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Sen. Spencer Deery (R-West Lafayette) represents Tippecanoe County and called the bill an “important first step.” He said economic development is vital and that IEDC has been given a lot of tools — and money.

“But with large funding and great powers come great responsibilities and greater expectations for transparency and accountability,” Deery said. “Otherwise, trust erodes and support for economic development dwindles.”

Some Democrats objected to the bill because the legislative appointments to the IEDC board will be made solely by Republicans.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.