Antiscience legislation in South Dakota out of commission

South Dakota's Senate Bill 59, which would have allowed the misrepresentation of science in the classroom, was tabled on a 7-0 vote in the Senate Education Committee on January 30, 2020, and is thus out of commission.

If enacted, SB 59 would have provided, "No teacher may be prohibited from assisting students to understand, analyze, critique, or review, in an objective scientific manner, the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught, which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48 [the section of the state code that governs the state education standards revision cycle]."

Although no specific topics were mentioned, the language of the bill matched the language in bills explicitly aimed at disputing evolution and/or climate change, including South Dakota's SB 114 in 2015. In 2016, the identical SB 83 was introduced and eventually died in committee; in 2017, the identical SB 55 passed the Senate but ultimately was defeated in the House Education Committee; in 2019, the identical HB 1270 was defeated on the House floor.

The chief sponsor of SB 59 was Jeff Monroe (R-District 24), joined by five colleagues in the Senate and eight colleagues in the House. Two of its sponsors, Phil Jensen (R-District 33) and Wayne Steinhauer (R-District 9), voted to table the bill.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.