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Antievolution bills die in Missouri

Two antievolution bills died in committee in the Missouri House of Representatives on May 17, 2013, when the legislature adjourned.

House Bill 179 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." HB 179 died in the House Rules Committee.

House Bill 291, dubbed the Missouri Standard Science Act, would have, if enacted, required "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 have applied to both public elementary and secondary schools and to "any introductory science course taught at any public institution of higher education" in Missouri. About 3000 words long and with a 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," HB 291 was the latest in a string of similar bills beginning with HB 911 and HB 1722 in 2004. HB 291 died in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

In all, eight antievolution bills were introduced in six states (Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma) in 2013; none won passage.