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Antievolution legislation in Missouri dies

When the Missouri legislative session ended on May 14, 2010, House Bill 1651 died, without ever having been assigned to a committee. The bill would have, if enacted, called on state and local education administrators to "endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including biological and chemical evolution" and to "endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies." "Toward this end," the bill continued, "teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution."

The chief sponsor of HB 1651 was Robert Wayne Cooper (R-District 155), joined by Doug Funderburk (R-District 12), Ed Emery (R-District 126), Cynthia Davis (R-District 19), Therese Sander (R-District 22), David Sater (R-District 68), Rick Stream (R-District 94), Jeff Grisamore (R-District 47), Jeanie Riddle (R-District 20), Rodney Schad (R-District 11), and Darrell Pollock (R-District 146). Cooper was the sponsor of a series of failed antievolution bills in the past in Missouri. In 2004, he introduced two bills, HB 911 and HB 1722, that called for equal time for "intelligent design" in Missouri's public schools. In 2006, he introduced HB 1266, which if enacted would have required that "If a theory or hypothesis of biological origins is taught, a critical analysis of such theory or hypothesis shall be taught in a substantive amount." In 2008, he introduced HB 2554, which is similar to 2010's HB 1651, and in 2009, he introduced HB 656, which is identical to HB 1651.