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"Intelligent design" legislation in New York dies


When the New York State Assembly's legislative session ended on June 24, 2005, Assembly Bill 8036 died in committee. If enacted, the bill would have required that "all pupils in grades kindergarten through twelve in all public schools in the state ... receive instruction in both theories of intelligent design and evolution." It also charged New York's commissioner of education to assist in developing curricula and local boards of education to provide "appropriate training and curriculum materials ... to ensure that all aspects of the theories, along with any supportive data, are fully examined through such course of study." Introduced late in the legislative session, poorly and vaguely drafted, and with only one sponsor, the bill was never thought to have a chance of succeeding; its sponsor, Daniel L. Hooker (R-Saugerties) was widely reported as explaining that his intention was more to spark discussion than to pass the bill. Referring to A08036 and a bill that would permit the posting of the Ten Commandments on public buildings and grounds, Hooker told the Albany Times-Union (May 31, 2005), "It's obvious that these are religious-based." James Conte (R-Huntington Station), a member of the education committee, told the Long Island Press that his office was deluged by e-mails opposing A08036, and Steve Englebright (D-East Setauket) -- a paleontologist by training and the founding director of the Museum of Long Island Natural Sciences at SUNY at Stony Brook -- described it as requiring "a waste of very precious class time to put forward thoroughly disputed ideas."