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"Intelligent design" bill in Missouri

House Bill 1227, introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives on January 10, 2012, would, if enacted, require "the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design," according to the legislature's summary of the bill. The equal treatment provision would apply to both public elementary and secondary schools and to "any introductory science course taught at any public institution of higher education" in Missouri.

HB 1227's text is about 3000 words long, beginning with a declaration that the bill is to be known as the Missouri Standard Science Act, followed by a defectively alphabetized glossary providing idiosyncratic definitions of "analogous naturalistic processes," "biological evolution," "biological intelligent design," "destiny," "empirical data," "equal treatment," "hypothesis," "origin," "scientific theory," "scientific law," and "standard science."

Among the substantive provisions of the bill, applying both to public elementary and secondary schools and to introductory science courses in public institutions of higher education: "If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught."

For public elementary and secondary schools, HB 1227 also provides, "If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a textbook, the textbook shall give equal treatment to biological evolution and biological intelligent design." After the bill is enacted, new textbooks purchased for the public schools will have to conform to the equal treatment requirement. A committee will develop supplementary material on "intelligent design" for optional interim use.

HB 1227 is apparently a descendent of HB 911 in 2004, which was also dubbed the Missouri Standard Science Act, began with a glossary of the same eleven terms (and also "extrapolated radiometric data"), would have required equal treatment of "intelligent design" in the public elementary and secondary schools (although not in public higher education), and would have required textbooks to conform to the equal treatment requirement.

HB 911 was widely criticized, including by the Science Teachers of Missouri. A sequel bill, HB 1722, also introduced in 2004, contained the same language as HB 911, but omitted provisions that would have required the text of the bill to be posted in high school science classrooms and that would have enabled the firing of teachers and administrators who failed to comply with the law. Both bills died when the legislative session ended.

Rick Brattin (R-District 124) is the main sponsor of HB 1227; its cosponsors are John McCaherty (R-District 90), Charlie Davis (R-District 128), Andrew Koenig (R-District 88), Sue Allen (R-District 92), and Darrell Pollock (R-District 146); Davis, Koenig, and Pollock also cosponsored the antievolution HB 195 in 2011. HB 1227 is the fourth antievolution bill of 2012, joining Indiana's Senate Bill 89 and New Hampshire's House Bills 1148 and 1157.