Antievolution bill dies in Missouri


When the legislative session of the Missouri House of Representatives ended on May 13, 2005, House Bill 35 died in the Education Committee. HB 35 provided that:

All biology textbooks sold to the public schools of the state of Missouri shall have one or more chapters containing a critical analysis of origins. The chapters shall convey the distinction between data and testable theories of science and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological evolution, the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.
The second and third sentences, of course, are modelled after the so-called Santorum language, present only in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference for the No Child Left Behind Act and not in the act itself. The sponsor of the bill, Cynthia Davis (R-O'Fallon), was a cosponsor of both of the previous legislative session's "intelligent design" bills in the Missouri House of Representatives, HB 911 and HB 1722.

On May 4, 2005, the House Education Committee alloted ninety minutes of hearings to HB 35, although it was so late then in the legislative session that there was no realistic possibility that the bill would proceed further. During the hearings, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "All but one person who testified in favor of the bill were members of two families, both of which home school their children." Testifying against it were Bob Boldt, Jan Weaver of the University of Missouri, Columbia, and Becky Lutherland, representing the Science Teachers of Missouri. Undaunted, Cynthia Davis told the Post-Dispatch that "she hopes that by getting a hearing, she at least introduces a concept that might catch on in next year's session."