The Washington Times-Herald

January 23, 2009

Messmer learning ropes at Statehouse


Messmer, 46, was at the Statehouse many times in November and December for training and meetings to prepare for the session, which started last week and runs through April. He had a lot of do to get himself, his family and the mechanical engineering business he co-owns ready for his absence.

He replaces Democrat Dave Crooks of Washington, who held the seat for 12 years.

As Messmer hurries to finish work on legislation he plans to file before the deadline that is less than 24 hours away, he is stopped by veteran Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville. “Hey, I just left you an e-mail,” Borders says and beckons Messmer over to a table he’s sitting at in the hall.

Borders asks Messmer to sign on as a coauthor of a bill that will adjust the monthly personal allowance received by seniors living in nursing facilities from $52 to $60.

“Eight dollars may not sound like a big deal,” Borders says, “but it’s a big deal to them.”

Messmer is well aware of the legislation. He’s heard from a woman living in a Jasper nursing home about how hard it is to do everything with that allotted $52. “Getting your hair done can cost $25, $30,” he says.

He wholeheartedly agrees to be a coauthor.

Getting co-authors strengthens your bill, Messmer says. That’s especially important for him, a Republican legislator, since the Democrats have the majority in the House.

“Being in the minority, if you don’t have a coauthor in the majority, the bill probably won’t get a hearing (in committee),” he says. A bill must get committee approval before it can be considered by the full House.

So it was especially important to him to get a Democrat — Rep. John Day, D-Indianapolis —to coauthor his bill about mental health.

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