CHICAGO -Indianawould issue up to $500 million in bonds to finance a $1 billion expansion of a commuter rail line that runs between the northwest corner of the state and Chicago under a proposal being pushed by a group of powerful legislators and regional planners, who say the project is needed to handle the region's rapid growth.

The bill that would authorize an unprecedented funding mechanism for the project - the diversion of a chunk of state sales tax - squeaked through the state House last week after a lengthy debate, and now awaits a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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