Earlier this month the New Mexico House of Representatives introduced House Bill 302 , the fifth piece of anti-evolution legislation to be considered in a state legislature in 2011. HB 302 would shield teachers who inform students about “scientific information” regarding the “scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” scientific topics from “reassignment, termination, discipline or other discrimination for doing so.” The bill’s sole sponsor is Rep. Thomas A. Anderson (R-District 29).
What issues, you might ask, constitute “controversial” scientific topics? The bill lists four examples: climate change, human cloning, and of course, “biological origins” and “biological evolution.” The bill further specifies that the “scientific information” teachers may present to students includes “information that coincides or harmonizes with religious tenets” (although it does not include “information derived from religious writings, beliefs or doctrines”). In other words, HB 302 invites public school biology teachers to teach “intelligent design” creationism with impunity.
The bill has been referred to the New Mexico House Education Committee. If passed, HB 302 will almost certainly result in expensive litigation that will cost New Mexico taxpayers dearly.
Rep. Anderson’s bill closely resembles Senate Bill 433 from the 2009 state legislative session, which questioned the validity of “biological evolution” and “chemical evolution.” That bill died in committee in March 2009.