The Tennessee Senate approved a bill on 20 March 2012 that would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics, including “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” SB 893 was passed with the support of 24 senators and opposed by eight.
The Tennessee House passed a similar measure, HB 368, a year ago. The chambers are now expected to try to reconcile the differences in their versions. If that happens, each chamber would need to pass the bill again in order for it to be sent to the governor’s desk for a signature to become law.
According to the National Center for Science Education: “Tennessee’s governor Bill Haslam has previously indicated that he would discuss the bill with the state board of education, telling the Tennessean (March 19, 2012), ‘It is a fair question what the General Assembly’s role is … That’s why we have a state board of education.’ “
AIBS wrote to Governor Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, and House Speaker Beth Harwell in opposition to the legislation prior to its passage in the Senate. Read the letter at http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20120316tennesseeevolution_bill.html.
Blogger Michael Zimmerman wrote on the Huffington Post that: “Legislators in Tennessee have apparently decided that it is critical for them to reexamine what should have been settled by the Scopes Trial in Dayton, TN in 1925. They’re following down the path blazed by similar-minded legislators in Louisiana and moving relentlessly into the past by moving forward with an anti-evolution, pro-creationism bill modeled on the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008.” The letter from AIBS is referenced by Zimmerman as part of the “institutional expertise that has been levied against the Tennessee legislation.”
In Oklahoma, the state’s House of Representatives approved a bill on 16 March 2012 that would encourage teachers to present the strengths and weakness of “controversial” topics, including evolution and climate change. HB 1551 was introduced in 2011 by Rep. Sally Kern (R-District 84). The bill is now under consideration by the state Senate. The AIBS sent a letter to Oklahoma Senate leaders in opposition to HB 1551. Read the letter from AIBS at http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20120320oklahomaevolution.html.
One piece of good news did come from Oklahoma this month. In early March, a second anti-evolution bill that was pending in the Senate died in committee. Prospects for Oklahoma SB 1742 ended when the deadline passed for bills in the Senate to be reported from their committees.
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