Florida antievolution bill dies

When the Florida legislature adjourned sine die on May 7, 2011, Senate Bill 1854 died in committee. If enacted, SB 1854 would have amended a section of Florida law to require "[a] thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution" in the state's public schools. In 2009, before introducing a similar bill, SB 1854's sponsor, Stephen R. Wise (R-District 5), announced his intention to introduce a bill requiring "intelligent design" to be taught in Florida's public schools. In 2011, discussing SB 1854 with a reporter for the Tampa Tribune (March 13, 2011), he asked, "Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?" According to the Tribune, he was referring to evolution and what he called "non-evolution." Wise further explained, "I think it's a way in which people can have critical thinking ... what we're saying is here's a theory, a theory of evolution, a theory of whatever, and you decide." SB 1854 was vigorously opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Florida Citizens for Science, the Florida Academy of Sciences, and newspapers across the state, including Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel.