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Antievolution measures dead in New Mexico
With the end of the legislative session on March 17, 2007, all four antievolution measures in the New Mexico legislature are dead. (The House of Representatives is in a special session now to deal with a handful of bills, but these include none of the antievolution measures.) During the legislative session, none of the bills seemed to have a strong chance of success, with House Joint Memorial 14 being tabled in committee in January and House Bill 506 being tabled in committee in February. After HJM 14 was tabled, the Albuquerque Journal (January 30, 2007) reported that the vote "was a signal that the effort to inject intelligent design teaching into classrooms wouldn't get far."
If enacted, HB 506 (and its counterpart Senate Bill 371) would have required the state department of education to adopt rules allowing teachers "to objectively inform students of scientific information relevant to the strengths and weaknesses" of any "theory of biological origins" taught, and allowing students to "reach their own conclusions about biological origins." If enacted, HJM 14 (and its counterpart Senate Joint Memorial 9) would have in effect asked the state department of education to comply with the requirements of HB 506 and SB 371, claiming (among other things) that "many credentialed scientists challenge certain aspects of evolutionary theory."
Before the bills died, Dave Thomas's op-ed "Intelligent design supporters find new, creative ways to get their message out" appeared in the March 13, 2007, issue of the Albuquerque Tribune. Thomas commented, "The measures would have also have given students the 'right and freedom to reach their own conclusions about biological origins.' We don't encourage students to "reach their own conclusions" on how to add fractions. Why should we suddenly do so with the biosciences? Make no mistake, the only academic freedom involved in these measures is the freedom to teach creationism in science class," adding, "Creationists aren't going away. They're just getting sneakier."