State Sen. Jim Buck’s "cease and desist" bill was referred to the House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee today during the bill’s first reading in the House.
The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Dave Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, and Greg Beumer, R-Modoc, will be heard in committee at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
“I am glad it has been given a committee hearing," Buck said. "I am glad Wolkins has been able to carry it.”
City of Kokomo Director of Operations Randy McKay said he feels the bill is only in place as a political tool.
“We are not surprised that Senator Buck would continue to apply partisan political pressure on the House to act on this redundant piece of legislation,” McKay said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that Buck continues to block development and job creation in Kokomo and is playing politics instead of focusing on solutions.”
Buck’s bill, which will give the Indiana Department of Homeland Security the authority to issue cease and desist orders. is aimed at Kokomo’s baseball stadium project. It was passed by the Senate on Jan. 22 with a 41-8 vote.
“I think this is a good bill, and I think this is an emergency,” Buck said during the Senate’s final reading.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security sent letters to Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight on Nov. 24 informing the city it had 60 days to correct violations on eight restricted parcels within the baseball stadium project.
Buck, who filed the bill on Jan. 7, has said it will allow the state to protect itself from the FEMA, which has threatened to “seek to enforce the terms of the grant by withholding State and/or local mitigation assistance.”
The 60-day deadline passed on Jan. 27, and while no further action has been taken by either the IDHS or FEMA, Buck said the situation is continually getting more dangerous.
"We are still under the threat to FEMA," Buck said. "Since that time has passed it becomes more real that we will be sanctioned by FEMA. Every day that passes, it is like a ticking bomb waiting for something to happen. It ratchets up the threat."
Following the bill’s passage in the Senate, Goodnight questioned Buck’s motivations and stated he felt Buck had proposed the legislation for personal reasons.
“This is purely Jim Buck playing politics,” Goodnight said. “We all know this is an election year.”