Bookmark and Share

Public Policy Report for 09/02/2003

  • NSF Education and Human Resources FY04 appropriations update
  • USFWS proposes new fee schedule for permits; may impact some scientists and collections
  • Michigan overrun with intelligent design legislation
  • Science education victory in New Mexico
  • New in BioScience: New legislation advocates free access to scientific publications, but at what cost?

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks to AIBS membership leaders and contacts, including the President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director, AIBS Council Representative, Journal Editor, Newsletter Editor, Public Policy Committee Chair, Public Policy Representative, and Education Committee Chair of all AIBS member societies and organizations (see the Membership Directories for contact information).

All material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. Please mention AIBS as the source; office staff appreciate receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Dr. Robert Gropp [; 202-628-1500 x250].


The National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources
Activity conducts programs that draw talented students into science
and technology careers, improve undergraduate science education,
assist in providing all pre-college students with a level of
education in math, science, and technology that reflects the needs of
the nation, and extend greater research opportunities to
underrepresented segments of the scientific and engineering
communities. EHR priorities identified in the President's fiscal
year 2004 (FY04) budget request included: increased funding for Math
and Science Partnerships that improve pre-K12 science education;
larger graduate student stipends to attract highly-qualified
students; and, an $8.5 million investment to support NSF's Workforce
for the 21st Century initiative which builds on NSF's education
programs to foster collaborations to design a suite of complementary
and integrated programs for pre-K12 to the post-doctorate level to
provide a route for students to advance in a seamless progression.

On July 25, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives approved HR 2861,
legislation that would make appropriations for Veterans Affairs,
Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies (includes
NSF). In this legislation are the House's desired spending levels
for EHR Activities. Overall, the House recommends that EHR receive
$910.68 million. While this amount is approximately $7.5 million
more than EHR's comparable appropriation for FY03, this funding level
is $27.36 below the President's FY04 budget request. More
specifically, the House would provide $140 million for the Math and
Science Partnerships, less than the budget request for MSP but a
$12.5 million increase over FY03. The House would also provide the
Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)
program with $90 million, equal to the FY03 appropriation. The
recommendation for Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education is
$10 million over the budget request for Informal Science, bringing
the total program level to $60 million or $1 million below the FY03
level. In the Undergraduate Education activity, $6.84 million more
than the budget request would be provided for the Advanced
Technological Education (ATE) program bringing total funding to $45
million. The House provides no money for NSF to begin its Workforce
for the 21st Century initiative. Finally, within the Human Resource
Development Activity, an additional $1.27 million above the budget
request would be added to the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority
Participation (LSAMP) program, bringing total LSAMP funding to $34
million. Just over $2 million would be added to the President's
budget request for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) for total FY04 funding of $22
million. All other programs and activities within EHR, with the
exception of the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program which would receive
$10 million, would be funded at the levels proposed in NSF's 2004
budget justification.

The Senate has yet to draft its version of FY04 appropriations
legislation for the NSF. After returning from summer recess in
September, Congress must complete work on 13 appropriations measures
before the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, or begin passing
temporary spending bills (Continuing Resolutions) to avoid shutting
down government programs not yet appropriated. Individuals
interested in NSF EHR programs may wish to share their thoughts with
their Senators in the coming weeks. Information about the status of
FY04 funding for other NSF programs, such as the BIO Directorate is
available in the August 18th edition of the AIBS Public Policy Report
which is available online at


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will accept
public comments through 10 October 2003 on proposed changes to fees
assessed for various permit applications. In carrying out its
responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and other laws, USFWS
issues permits that authorize the holders to engage in certain
wildlife-related activities that are regulated by international
treaty or laws of the United States. The Service contends that the
shortfall between program costs and fee collection make it necessary
to implement a new permit application fee schedule. The changes
would not affect permit application fees for migratory bird banding
and marking permits issued by the U.S. Geological Survey's Bird
Banding Laboratory.

Some of the Proposed Changes-
Migratory Bird Rehabilitation Permit Application Fees. Under rules
promulgated by USFWS in 2001, a specific permit category was
established for migratory bird rehabilitators. This rule requires
permit applicants to pay a $25 fee for a five year permit. The
proposed new fee schedule would increase the fee to $50.

Permit Waivers. Current federal rules provide for a waiver of permit
fees for governmental entities, fees are not charged to any federal,
state, or local government agency, nor any individual or institution
under contract to such agency for the proposed activities.
Historically, the service has extended fee waivers to other public
institutions provided that proof of their status as a "public
institution" accompanied the permit application. USFWS proposes to
limit the fee waiver provided for public institutions to only federal
and state governmental agencies, and to individuals or institutions
under contract to such agencies for the activities being permitted.

CITES Permit and Fee Changes. In response to recent changes to the
CITES permit process, USFWS has initiated modifications to the
permitting process. Some of these changes will result in increased
costs. The Service has transitioned from the use of regular paper
for the production of permits to a security paper designed to hinder
counterfeiting. As a result, permit costs are increasing and the
Service is no longer technically able to grant Multiple-Use Permits.
Multiple-Use Permits were available for multiple exports of specific
items, such as "artificially propagated plants" and "biological

Wild Bird Conservation Act Cooperative Breeding Programs. Under the
WBCA, cooperative breeding programs can be established to import and
breed specifically authorized avian species. These programs are made
up of individuals or zoological institutions with specialized skills
in the propagation of a particular species. If the program is
approved, authorization can be given to import birds under the WBCA.
Currently, no fee has been charged to apply for the approval of a
cooperative breeding program or to amend and renew currently
authorized programs. Given the length of time and expertise required
to review applications for cooperative breeding programs, USFWS
proposes requiring an application fee to cover a small portion of the
costs. The Service will charge a fee of $200 to process an
application to establish a new cooperative breeding program, and a
fee of $100 to amend a current program.

Native Endangered and Threatened Species Permit Application Fees.
USFWS proposes the application fee for native endangered and
threatened species permits under the ESA increase from $25 to $100
for recovery and interstate commerce; $50 for enhancement of survival
permits with Safe Harbor Agreements; $50 for enhancement of survival
permits with Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances; and
$100 for incidental take permits with Habitat Conservation Plans.

A link to the complete USFWS Federal Register notice issued on August
27, 2003 may be accessed via the AIBS Federal Register Resource at The official
notice provides greater detail about specific changes and directions
for submitting comments.


Proponents for including religious beliefs in public school science
curricula no longer limit theIr activities to small school districts
or states with large fundamentalist Christian populations.
Anti-evolution advocates now use "intelligent design theory"--a
dressed-up version of creationism--to try and influence science
education in states across the country. In some cases, these
political initiatives seek to influence school boards charged with
selecting or approving textbooks (e.g., Texas) or public science
curricula (e.g., Minnesota and New Mexico). In other locations the
tactics are more direct-get the state legislature to define what
constitutes evolution and dictate what educators can say on the
subject. The latter appears to be the strategy in Michigan where two
pieces of legislation were introduced over the summer in the State
House of Representatives.

Michigan State Representative Kenneth Bradstreet (R, 105th) and a
group of 24 other members of the State House of Representatives
introduced House Bill 4946 on July 2, 2003. Bradstreet and eight
other cosponsors of HB 4946 are members of the House Education
Committee, where the legislation has been referred for consideration.
The legislation would change the Michigan school code to require the
Board of Education to modify state science standards to include the
concept of "intelligent design by a Creator" wherever evolution is
mentioned. The anti-science portion of the legislation reads: "(10)
As soon as practicable after the effective date of this subsection,
the state board shall revise the recommended model core academic
curriculum content standards under subsection (2) as follows: (a) In
the science standards, all references to 'evolution' and 'how species
change through time' shall be modified to indicate that this is an
unproven theory by adding the phrase 'all students will explain the
competing theories of evolution and natural selection based on random
mutation and the theory that life is the result of the purposeful,
intelligent design of a Creator. (b) In the science standards for
middle and high school, all references to 'evolution' and 'natural
selection' shall be modified to indicate that these are unproven
theories by adding the phrase 'Describe how life may be the result of
the purposeful, intelligent design of a Creator'. (c) In the science
standards for middle and high school, all references to 'evolution'
and the 'natural selection' shall be modified to indicate that these
are unproven theories by adding the phrase 'Explain the competing
theories of evolution and natural selection based on random mutation
and the theory that life is the result of the purposeful, intelligent
design of a Creator."

In the event that HB 4946 might be too blatant an attempt to include
religious studies in public school science courses, on July 17th
Representative Hoogendyk (R, 61st, Kalamazoo County) and seven
colleagues (including Bradstreet) introduced HB 5005. This
legislation has also been referred to the House Education Committee
for consideration. HB 5005 would authorize that alternatives to
evolution be taught in science courses and endorses teaching the
design hypothesis as an explanation for the origin and diversity of
life. The text of HB 5005 reads in part: "(1) The teaching in a
public school science class of the methodological naturalism
hypothesis as an explanation for the origin and diversity of life
shall not preclude also teaching the design hypothesis as an
explanation for the origin and diversity of life. A public school
official shall not censor or prohibit the teaching of the design
hypothesis. (2) As used in this section: (a) 'Design hypothesis'
means the theory that life and its diversity result from a
combination of change, necessity, and design. (b)'Methodological
naturalism hypothesis' means the theory that nature is all there is
and that all phenomena, including living systems, result only from
chance and necessity."

These are not the first attempts by Michigan lawmakers to put
religion into science curricula. Similar legislation was defeated in
2001. In part, earlier proposals were defeated when key lawmakers
decided that passing such legislation presents an image of Michigan
that does not enhance the State's ability to recruit employers,
particularly in high-wage industries such as biotechnology.

Michigan residents interested in learning more about evolution
education related issues in their state should consider joining the
Michigan evolution list serve, a node in the AIBS/NCSE State
Evolution List Serve Network. For information about other
state/province list serves in the Network, visit


On August 28th the New Mexico State Board of Education adopted by a
vote of 13-0 statewide science standards strongly supported by
experts in science education. Throughout the process, proponents for
the inclusion of alternative theories of evolution, particularly
intelligent design, mounted a vigorous campaign to influence the
process -- their efforts were soundly defeated.


The September 2003 Washington Watch column for BioScience is now
available online:

"The mission statements of most scientific societies encompass the
need to raise awareness of their field of research. So why, then, is
a campaign aimed at broadly distributing the results of scientific
research coming under fire from those same societies?

The Public Library of Science (PLoS;, a nonprofit
organization of scientists and physicians, launched a public campaign
in October 2000 aimed at 'making the world's scientific and medical
literature a public resource.' In June 2003, their cause received its
first legislative endorsement when Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D-MN)
introduced H.R. 2613, a bill that would ensure free access to
scientific research results by preventing the copyright of any
scientific research 'substantially' funded by the federal government.
'This is a good idea whose time is overdue,' Sabo said. 'We only
progress as a society when research is available to all of our best
minds at any time. Citizens should have access to publicly funded
research anytime.'"

The full story will soon be available online at:

- Support the AIBS Public Policy Office and gain important benefits
for your society or organization. Find out how at

- IBRCS / NEON updates online at

- The plenary lectures from the 2003 AIBS Annual Meeting (theme:
Bioethics in a Changing World) are now online for free viewing at

- Link your website to AIBS at


The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association headquartered in Washington DC, with a staff of approximately 30. It was founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences and has been an independent organization since the mid-1950s, governed by a Board of Directors elected by its membership. The AIBS membership consists of approximately 6,000 biologists and 80 professional societies and other organizations; the combined individual membership of the latter exceeds 240,000 biologists. AIBS is an umbrella organization for the biological sciences dedicated to promoting an understanding of the natural living world, including the human species and its welfare, by engaging in coalition activities with its members in research, education, public policy, and public outreach; publishing the peer-reviewed journal, BioScience; providing scientific peer review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients; convening scientific meetings; and performing administrative and other support services for its member organizations.

back to Public Policy Reports

Bookmark and Share