Senate bill pauses metropolitan area changes, including in Indiana, for now

Muncie was one of five cities in Indiana that would have lost its metropolitan statistical area designation due to changes proposed by the Federal Office of Management and Budget.  - Downtown Muncie/via Facebook

Muncie was one of five cities in Indiana that would have lost its metropolitan statistical area designation due to changes proposed by the Federal Office of Management and Budget.

Downtown Muncie/via Facebook

The US Senate has voted to halt any immediate changes to the definition of metropolitan areas. The proposed change would have removed the label from several Indiana cities.

“Metropolitan statistical areas” have long been defined as cities with 50,000 inhabitants. There are nearly 400 in the United States. The biggest benefit of being an MSA is the ability to apply for federal grants not open to other fields.

Last year, the Federal Office for Management and Budget proposed to double the required population count as one MSA up to 100,000. It would remove more than 140 MSAs nationwide, including Columbus, Kokomo, Michigan City-Laporte, Muncie, and Terre Haute Indiana.


VIEW: Indiana MSA from 2013

Republican United States Representative Greg Pence spoke to Indiana Public Broadcasting’s “All In” last year about MSAs. Prior to this year’s redistricting, Pence represented two.

“I have a community in my sixth district that they say if it lost the MSA designation it would take $3 million away from the community that it has used year after year to have a city bus system to bring people who don’t have one. ‘t have transportation to and from work,” he says.

Pence said that to replace grant money, regions would have to raise property taxes.

On Sunday, a bill tabled in May 2021 was approved in the Senate with unanimous consent. It demands that a federal ASM report be completed within the next three years. And, any changes to the MSAs must include a 4-6 month public comment period.

Before the federal bill was introduced, Hoosier lawmakers sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, asking it to reconsider the change. This was after a Brookings Institute report highlighted the change and recommended against it.

To become law, the House must pass the measure and then send it to the President’s office.


Norman D. Briggs