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Antievolution legislation in Missouri

House Bill 195, introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives on January 13, 2011, and not yet referred to a committee, is apparently the second antievolution bill of 2011. The bill would, if enacted, call 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 continues, "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."

HB 195 is virtually identical to HB 1651, introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives on January 13, 2010. The main difference is that HB 1651's ornate disclaimer — "this section shall not be construed to promote philosophical naturalism or biblical theology, promote natural cause or intelligent cause, promote undirected change or purposeful design, promote atheistic or theistic belief, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or ideas, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion" — was replaced in HB 195 with "this section shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion." When the Missouri legislative session ended on May 14, 2010, HB 1651 died without ever having been assigned to a committee.

The chief sponsor of HB 195 is Andrew Koenig (R-District 88), joined by Doug Funderburk (R-District 12), Kurt Bahr (R-District 19), Charlie Davis (R-District 128), Bill Reiboldt (R-District 130), Thomas Long (R-District 134), Dwight Scharnhorst (R-District 93), Shane Schoelle (R-District 139), Kathie Conway (R-District 14), Chuck Gatschenberger (R-District 13), Darrell Pollock (R-District 146), Rick Stream (R-District 94), Rodney Schad (R-District 115), and David Sater (R-District 68). Funderburk, Davis, Sater, Stream, Schad, and Pollock were also cosponsors of HB 1651 in 2010. HB 1651's chief sponsor Robert Wayne Cooper (R-District 155), who previously introduced a string of unsuccessful antievolution bills — HB 911 and 1722 (which called for equal time for "intelligent design" in the state's public schools) in 2004, HB 1266 in 2006, HB 2554 in 2008, and HB 656 in 2009 — in Missouri, was termed out of office in 2010.