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Tennessee "monkey bill" passes legislature

House Bill 368 passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on a 72-23 vote on March 26, 2012, the Chattanooga Times Free Press (March 26, 2012) reports. The bill would encourage teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of topics that arouse "debate and disputation" such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning"; it now proceeds to Governor Bill Haslam, who will have ten days to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it. Haslam previously indicated that he would discuss the bill with the state board of education, telling the Nashville Tennesseean (March 19, 2012), "It is a fair question what the General Assembly's role is ... That's why we have a state board of education."

Opposing the bill have been the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and three distinguished Tennessee scientists and members of the National Academy of Sciences who recently warned, in a column published in the Tennessean (March 25, 2012), that the legislation was "misleading, unnecessary, likely to provoke unnecessary and divisive legal proceedings, and likely to have adverse economic consequences for the state."