Antiscience bill dies in Indiana

Indiana's House Bill 1283 died on February 25, 2013, when the deadline for House bills to have their third reading in the House passed. The fate of the bill was not unexpected: its sponsor Jeff Thompson (R-District 28) told the Lafayette Journal and Courier (February 3, 2013) that he thought that it would not receive a hearing in the House Education Committee, and a spokesperson for the committee's chair said that it would not receive a hearing due to the volume of bills and the limited time to address them.

Claiming that "some subjects, including, but not limited to, science, history, and health, have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics," HB 1283 would have allowed teachers "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher" and prohibited state and local education authorities from prohibiting them from doing so.

As NCSE previously reported, although evolution is not specifically mentioned in the bill, previous legislation supported by its sponsor and the similarity of its language to the language of previous antievolution bills together make it amply clear that the teaching of evolution in the state's public schools is a main target. In its coverage of the bill, the Journal and Courier agreed, discussing the antievolution legislation in Louisiana in 2008 and in Tennessee in 2012 and 1925 by way of background.

HB 1283 was the only antiscience bill in Indiana in 2013. State senator Dennis Kruse (R-District 14) disclosed in November 2012 that he intended to introduce a bill that would encourage teachers to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial. He subsequently changed his plan, saying that he would introduce a bill that would allow students to challenge teachers to provide evidence to support any claims the students found suspect. Apparently, however, no such bill was introduced.