The plan approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee adds $1 million to the additional $5 million that was previously approved by the House. That $6 million would go beyond the state's $5 million liability cap that's already been distributed to the 58 stage collapse victims who filed claims with the state.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he was concerned about those injured who are facing long-term medical costs. The proposal would have the state attorney general's office distribute the money to cover expenses not paid for by insurance or payments from other parties, with none of the money able to cover attorney fees.
"We're doing this without anybody having to sue us," Kenley said. "We're taking care of them expeditiously and up front. On that basis, we feel that's probably a very reasonable estimate."
The additional $6 million still needs approval from the full Senate and House. Gov. Mitch Daniels has asked for additional money for the victims, saying the state's $5 million limit wasn't adequate.
Seven people were killed and dozens injured when strong winds toppled the stage rigging just before an Aug. 13 concert by country duo Sugarland. Lawsuits filed on behalf of many victims are pending against Sugarland and companies involved in building the stage and organizing the concert.
A lawyer representing some victims told the Senate committee last week that there are no guarantees of victims getting more money from their lawsuits and he estimated the victims had suffered $100 million in damages.
Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, unsuccessfully tried this legislative session to increase the state's liability cap from $5 million, which was set in 1974, to $22 million based on the rate of inflation since then. He said he thought it was better for the Legislature to set an updated cap and then let the legal system determine how the money should be distributed.
"Anything else is the Legislature acting like judge and jury," DeLaney said. "If we are going to be the judge and jury, I'd rather us be generous than be cheap."