LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Wednesday marked the deadline for Indiana Sen. Mark Messmer, the chairman of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, to decide if he’d hear pro-climate legislation.
Students from Climate Crisis: Get to the Source, which was started in West Lafayette, now includes high school students hailing from other Indiana towns, was watched in anticipation. Messmer, R-Jasper, declined.
Members of the group trekked to Washington earlier this month to persuade legislators to address climate changes in legislation.
“We’re the ones who will grow up and inherit the state and deal with the future they are leaving for us,” Rahul Durai, a sophomore at West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School. IndyStar.
Messmer, who chairs Senate Environmental Affairs Committee told IndyStar before deadline that he would no longer hear Senate legislation.
Confront the Climate Crisis students expressed their disappointment in the wake of his decision.
“Despite so many Hoosiers across Indiana coming together around this important issue, our legislation was denied a hearing by the Chairman of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, Senator Mark Messmer,” according to their statement. “Representing the youth voice of Indiana, we realize that the climate crisis puts Indiana’s future well-being in jeopardy, and we rely on those in power to hear our concerns and enact change.
“We must hold state officials accountable.” Senator Messmer’s inaction against this statewide threat sends a message to all Hoosiers, particularly the youth: your voices are not being heard by our state government.”
Confront the Climate Crisis teamed up with Sen. Ron Alting (R.Lafayette), to help author the report over the past year. Senate Bill No. 255, and Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis), to House Bill 1287Both of these organizations aimed to create a bipartisan taskforce made up experts to guide Indiana policymakers in addressing climate change.
Alting also authored Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, which asks the Indiana General Assembly to acknowledge climate change as a serious problem for Indiana and to “recognizes climate change and sustainable economic development has the potential to create high-skilled jobs, combat “brain drain,” decrease consumer energy costs, and enhance workforce development for Indiana while simultaneously mitigating climate change.”
In An articleAccording to IndyStar Messmer, he believed the task force bill was unnecessary as the issue could have been addressed through, for instance the 21st Century Energy Policy Task Force. The committee will entertain the topic, but it is not a given.
The group, in the release, also highlighted the large amount of support that their task force bill had gained throughout the state.
“Over the past several months, we have garnered an outpouring of nonpartisan and widespread support for Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 and Senate Bill 255 from grassroots organizations, public officials, and everyday Hoosiers from across Indiana, in every region of the state.
“This support includes a group of 80 organizations and public officials across Indiana that have endorsed this legislation. It also includes a coalition of organizations in State Senate District 48, Senator Messmer’s constituency, who publicly called on Senator Messmer to hold a hearing for this legislation,” stated the press release.
But despite their loss at the Indiana Statehouse, the students thanked the policymakers who helped them through this journey and to those who supported their cause:
“Nonetheless, we are so grateful for the brave leadership and dedication of the state legislators who have helped us and supported SCR 3 and SB 255: Senator Ron Alting (R-22), Senator Mike Bohacek (R-8), Senator Sue Glick (R-13), Senator Vaneta Becker (R-50), Senator Fady Qaddoura (D-30), Senator J.D. Ford (D-30), Shelli Yoder (30), Representative Carey Hamilton (D-8), Senator Shelli Yoder (30), Senator Sue Glick (R-13), Senator Vaneta Becker (R-50), Senator Fady Qaddoura (D-30), and Representative Mike Aylesworth (12).
“We are also extremely overtaken and thankful for the support across Indiana that has risen over the past several months to strengthen our cause. Although it is not what we expected, we remain committed to Indiana’s future. We are proud to have made great strides in this process and we know that the fight against climate change and environmental justice for Hoosiers does not end. The empowered youth of Confront the Climate Crisis will continue environmental advocacy throughout the rest of the 2022 Legislative Session and well into the future.”
Noe Padilla is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email him at Npadilla@jconline.com and follow him on Twitter at 1NoePadilla.