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Antiscience bill in Colorado fails

House Bill 13-1089 (PDF), which would have encouraged teachers in Colorado to misrepresent the scientific status of evolution and climate change, was rejected by a 7-6 vote in the House Committee on Education on February 4, 2013. The committee also voted 7-6 to postpone further consideration of the bill indefinitely. Otherwise a typical instance of the "academic freedom" strategy for undermining the integrity of science education, HB 13-1089 was unusual in targeting higher education as well as K-12 education. The primary sponsors of HB 13-1089 were Stephen Humphrey (R-District 48) in the House and Scott Renfroe (R-District 13) in the Senate — in Colorado, bills in either house of the legislature will have a sponsor in the other house. Among those testifying for the bill was a representative of the Discovery Institute, who claimed that his organization helped to draft the bill. Among those testifying against the bill were representatives of the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Education Association, and the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education.

"One down, seven to go," commented NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott, alluding to the seven bills still active — Arizona's Senate Bill 1213, Indiana's House Bill 1283, Missouri's House Bill 179 and House Bill 291, Montana's House Bill 183, and Oklahoma's Senate Bill 758 and House Bill 1674 — that would undermine the teaching of evolution and climate change in the public schools. (A further bill, Texas's House Bill 285, which would protect faculty and students in higher education from persecution over their acceptance of "intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms," is also still active.) "But this victory in Colorado was too close," Scott added. "People in Colorado and elsewhere need to understand that these bills would be nothing but trouble: scientifically misleading, pedagogically unnecessary, and likely to produce administrative, legal, and economic headaches." She expressed NCSE's appreciation to all those who testified at the committee hearing and contacted their representatives to express their opposition to HB 13-1089.