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Anti-Evolution and Anti-Climate Science Legislation Scorecard: 2014

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, science deniers flocked to familiar ground in 2014. Three bills attacking evolution and three bills hammering on "scientific controversies" were trotted out in Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia. All went down to defeat. Bills targeting climate change specifically were nowhere to be found. (More on that below.) But the trend is clear—expect future anti-science bills to be vague, focusing on "scientific controversies" instead of specific domains.

It was also the year of the Great Failed Repeal movement. In Louisiana, pro-science advocates tried (and failed for the fourth time) to repeal the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008. (Kudos to "Friend of Darwin" winner and student activist Zack Kopplin.) Another bill aimed to remove the "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act" of 1981. (Irony alert: the Act was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987.) Said one state senator, "Everyone was half listening and nobody read the bill...there [was] a lack of political will".

There were mixed results on the purely symbolic front. The fourth attempt to have Congress declare a Darwin Day is stalled in committee, and in Hawaii, a House resolution to establish a state Darwin Day flopped. But in South Carolina after much debate (and ultimately excised amendments), the governor signed a bill that established the Columbian mammoth as the official state fossil. Victory at last!

So what happened to attacks on climate science education? Besides the "scientific controversies" bills, the main action involved state science standards. Adoption of new science standards was legislatively blocked in Wyoming (and very nearly so in Oklahoma), with a pending bill in Michigan that would prevent the state from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards. In all three cases, the teaching of climate science was under attack.

Hawaii
House Resolution 145
Aim: Would designate February 12 of each year as Darwin Day "to celebrate all of Charles Darwin's achievements in the field of science"
Status: Died in committee
Links:
Darwin Day bill dies in Hawaii

Louisiana
Senate Bill 70
Aim: Would repeal the state's 1981 creationist law, "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act"
Status: Defeated in Senate vote
Links:
Louisiana to repeal 1981 creationist law?
Back to 1981 in Louisiana again?

Senate Bill 175
Aim: Would repeal Louisiana's so-called Science Education Act of 2008
Status: Died in committee
Links:
Repeal effort fails again in Louisiana

Michigan
House Bill 4972
Aim: Would prevent Michigan from adopting the NGSS, due in part to legislators’ concerns about students learning about climate change
Status: In committee

Missouri
House Bill 1472
Aim: Would allow parents to have their children excused from learning about evolution
Status: Died in committee

House Bill 1587
Aim: Prevents administrators from stopping teachers who are miseducating students about "scientific controversies" around evolution
Status: Died in committee
Links:
Antievolution legislation in Missouri
A second antievolution bill in Missouri
Antievolution bills die in Missouri

Oklahoma
House Bill 1674
Aim: Prevents administrators from stopping teachers who are miseducating students about "scientific controversies"
Status: Passed in House, died in Senate committee

Senate Bill 1765
Aim: Similar to House Bill 1674
Status: Died in committee

House Joint Resolution 1099
Aim: Would prevent adoption of the new state science standards, due in part to legislators’ concerns about students learning about climate change
Status: Legislature adjourned without passing either resolution.
Links:
A second antiscience bill in Oklahoma
Two down in Oklahoma
Trouble over Oklahoma science standards
A last-minute victory in Oklahoma

South Carolina
House Bill 4482
Aim: Designated the Columbian mammoth as the official state fossil. Was amended to add "as created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field".
Status: Signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley; Sixth Day of Creation wording was stripped out of the bill.
Links:
A mammoth debate in South Carolina
A mammoth victory in South Carolina

South Dakota
Senate Bill 112
Aim: Would provide that "[n]o school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics"
Status: Died in committee
Links:
"Intelligent design" bill in South Dakota
South Dakota "intelligent design" bill killed

Virginia
House Bill 207
Aim: Prevents administrators from stopping teachers who are miseducating students about "scientific controversies"
Status: Died in committee
Links:
Antiscience bill introduced in Virginia
Antiscience bill in Virginia dies

Wyoming
House Bill 1
Aim: Would prohibit the state board of education from using funds to review or implement the Next Generation Science Standards
Status: Passed and enacted
Links:
Wyoming blocks NGSS over climate

United States
House Resolution 467
Aim: Would designate February 12, 2004, as Darwin Day
Status: In committee

CONTACT: Robert Luhn, Director of Communications, NCSE, 510-601-7203,luhn@ncse.com

Web site: www.ncse.com

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit membership organization that defends the teaching of evolution and climate science. The NCSE provides information, resources, and advice to schools, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens defending science education. We educate the press and public about the scientific, educational, and legal aspects of these issues at local, state, and national levels. Our 5000 members are scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious and political affiliations.