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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Top Indiana lawmaker, family had millions on line in nursing home fight"

Tom LoBianco of the AP has a new, devastating report, via the Columbus Republic, on what Rep. Eric Turner stood to lose if a proposed ban on construction of new nursing homes in Indiana had become law this year. The story begins:

INDIANAPOLIS — A top Indiana lawmaker, his family and investors in their company risked losing millions in future profits if a proposed ban on construction of new nursing homes in Indiana had become law this year, an Associated Press review has found.

Instead, the bill died after intense private lobbying by Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, who now faces scrutiny over his actions on legislation that would have directly affected his family.

Public and private financial documents show Turner and other direct investors in Mainstreet Property Group rely on building new nursing homes to make money, generating returns of up to 600 percent in some cases. Each deal for a new home that Mainstreet completes with HealthLease Properties in Canada, an affiliated company in which Turner and his family are also investors, can net investors a collective $2 million or more.

Turner, R-Cicero, maintains that business model would have survived the proposed moratorium, and a ban simply would have led them to do business in other states.

Financial analysts who reviewed a private Mainstreet financial document for The Associated Press disagreed, concluding that the Indiana ban would have drastically cut into the company's profits by placing the state — where many of its facilities are located and others are planned — off limits.

Turner's private lobbying against the ban in the final two days of the legislative session has drawn scrutiny from Statehouse leaders, with fellow Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma ordering the House Ethics Committee to investigate Turner's actions.

Supporters of the moratorium, which would have halted new construction for five years, argued it was needed to keep the market from being flooded and prevent older facilities from going out of business. But opponents of the ban, including Turner and his children, argued it violated free market principles.

The bill died after Turner's push during private meetings of the House Republican Caucus, where decisions are frequently made before lawmakers return to public debate.

"It looks like he stood to benefit the most from this bill dying," said Tim Sadler, a business consultant and president of the Fairfax Group, which operates nursing homes in Indiana.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 10, 2014 05:24 PM
Posted to Indiana Government