Antiscience bill in South Dakota

01.27.2016

Senate Bill 83, introduced in the South Dakota Senate and referred to the Senate Education Committee on January 25, 2016, would, if enacted, allow teachers to teach "the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information" presented in courses aligned with the state education standards.

No areas of "scientific information" are specifically identified as abounding in weaknesses, but the legislative history of the lead sponsor, Jeff Monroe (R-District 24), is suggestive. In 2014, he sponsored Senate Bill 112, which would have allowed teachers to teach "intelligent design"; in 2015, he sponsored Senate Bill 114, which identified "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning" as scientifically controversial.

Senate Bill 112 was killed in the Senate Education Committee at Monroe's request. Senate Bill 114 received a hearing in the Senate Education Committee, during which representatives of the state department of education, the South Dakota Education Association, and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota testified in opposition to the bill, and then died in committee when the legislative session ended.

In sponsoring Senate Bill 83, Monroe is joined by Ried Holien (R-District 5), Phil Jensen (R-District 33), Betty Olson (R-District 28), and Bill Van Gerpen (R-District 19) in the Senate and by seven members of the House of Representatives, although there is no House equivalent of the bill.