INDIANAPOLIS — When the General Assembly adjourns for the year March 14, Indiana still will not have a bias crime statute, liquor stores will remain the only place to purchase cold beer and the $7.25 per hour minimum wage will be the same as it was in 2009.
But the Hoosier State might have an official insect.
The Indiana Senate voted 48-0 Tuesday to designate pyractomena angulata, more commonly known as Say's Firefly, as the state insect in recognition of the joy that summer lightning bugs have brought to Hoosier children for generations.
In fact, the idea for a state insect originated at Cumberland Elementary School, in West Lafayette, where students have spent the past three years learning about Say's Firefly and urging lawmakers to adopt it as a state symbol.
The firefly, which technically is a beetle, is native to Indiana and named for Thomas Say, a 19th century naturalist who lived and worked in New Harmony, Indiana, and is widely considered the father of American entomology.
State Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, the sponsor, acknowledged that designating a state insect is not, in and of itself, the most important thing Hoosier lawmakers could be doing.
But he said by recognizing Say's Firefly, the General Assembly also is recognizing the achievements of Indiana students in identifying a worthy state insect candidate and taking action to bring it to lawmakers' attention.
"The most important reason why is to reassure the future generation of Hoosiers that government is here to work for them," Alting said.
State Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, commended the selection of the firefly to represent Indiana in the insect community.
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"When I sit on my back porch in the summer and the fireflies are out, I'll tell you I have never seen anything like it anywhere in the world," Stoops said. "It is a special Hoosier thing and this is a great bill."
State Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, also quipped that the time was right to select Say's Firefly "because we certainly didn't want the mosquito to be our state insect."
The proposal now goes to the House, where Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, was somewhat less enthusiastic about the prospect of designating a state insect.
"I've long said that if this was coupled with a curriculum it would be a great learning opportunity," Bosma said. "The bill got out ahead of that I guess, so I don't know that a curriculum is being designed for it."
At the same time, Bosma asked "Who can complain?" when children are becoming interested in the work of state government.
He suggested the House probably will find time to act on the measure in the second half of the annual legislative session.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb already has indicated that he will sign the state insect proposal into law if it makes it to his desk.
Holcomb last month declared in his State of the State address: "I’ve got the bug; and to encourage these great kids and their perseverance, I'm taking up their cause this year."
Indiana has 14 other official state symbols, ranging from the cardinal as state bird, to the peony as state flower and the Evansville-made Republic Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt as the state aircraft.