Indiana Seeking New Law Following Stage Collapse at Sugarland Show
It's hard to believe five months have already passed since the tragic stage collapse that killed seven Sugarland fans at the Indiana State Fair Aug. 13. While the state of Indiana settled with the victims to the tune of $5 million, several legislators are still convinced that there's more work to be done. They're drafting up a bill that, if passed, would set regulations for the installation of outdoor structures in Indiana and require permits for those who want to set them up.
After the incident, the Indianapolis Star ran a story pointing out that the stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair had never been inspected by a state agency simply because there was no law in place requiring that action. Tim Lanane, the legislator writing up the bill, told the Star lawmakers were surprised by this fact.
"I think before that date anyone who attended an outdoor performance or other activity utilizing a stage . . . we just all assumed we were safe," he said. "Of course, what happened on August 13th last year changed all of that." There is still some controversy over the bill, however, since it would leave it in the hand of venues to hire an engineer or architect to come out an do the inspections.
Director of the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement Rick Powers doesn't think this system will work, saying that the government should either do the inspections on their own or hire someone else to do them. In his opinion, leaving the responsibility in the hands of the venue is like putting "the rooster in charge of the henhouse." It seems others are siding with him, as the Senate committee voted 5-2 with Jim Smith and Jim Banks, who raised the question of why the Senate is pushing legislation prior to finishing the investigation of the causes of the stage collapse.
"We don't know whether it will fix anything or not," said Smith. "Once the investigation comes out and we find out exactly what happened . . . we will be able to craft some meaningful legislation that has long-lasting impact on the public safety of Hoosiers in the state of Indiana.