West Lafayette Elementary students make history with state firefly bill

The Say's Firefly Bill is moving forward for the first time in four years. Cumberland Elementary students proposed the idea to make the firefly Indiana's official insect in 2015, but state lawmakers haven't made it easy.

Posted: Jan. 31, 2018 7:38 PM
Updated: Jan. 31, 2018 7:51 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind (WLFI) — The Say's Firefly Bill is moving forward for the first time in four years. Cumberland Elementary students proposed the idea to make the firefly Indiana's official insect in 2015 but state lawmakers haven't made it easy.

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News 18 was there as the bill passed unanimously through a senate committee Wednesday afternoon.

Fifth grader Kayla Xu waited four years for a committee to hear the firefly bill. 

"My stomach is all butterflies," said Xu moments before she testified before the Indiana Senate Public Policy Committee. 


Xu came up with the idea to make the Say's Firefly Indiana's official insect in 2015. On Wednesday, she got to introduce the bill for the first time.

"Why Say's Firefly and not the mosquito?" Xu said during the meeting. "It was named by Thomas Say also known as the father of North American Entomology from Indiana."

State Senator Ron Alting wrote the bill. He's the chairman of the Public Policy committee and the reason it was heard Wednesday.

"I've been here 20 years and never seen a presentation like today," said Alting. 

Based off facts and a lot of heart, Sen. Alting said the kids knocked it out of the park.

"It actually passed, 10-0," said Xu. "I'm really surprised."

But Sen. Alting wasn't surprised.

The Department of Education and the Governor's Office backed the bill. Former Purdue Entomologist Tom Turpin tesitified in favor of it.

"The testimony showed that we have more fireflies in the state of Indiana than any other state in the nation," said Alting. 

Xu said she's excited it passed through committee but she knows the process isn't over yet.

"I'm not going to let my hopes get too high," said Xu. 

But if it doesn't pass this session, Xu said she'll keep going.

"Because we are not giving up," said Xu.

The firefly bill now goes to second reading on the Senate floor. Alting said he's guessing next Tuesday it will come to a vote in the Senate.

If approved, it will head to the House.

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