Texas "intelligent design" bill dies

When the Texas legislature adjourned sine die on May 30, 2011, House Bill 2454 died in the House Committee on Higher Education without receiving a hearing. If enacted, HB 2454 would have provided, "An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member's or student's conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms." The sponsors of HB 2454 were Bill Zedler (R-District 96) and James White (R-District 12).

In a March 9, 2011, post on its blog, the Texas Freedom Network commented, "Disingenuous efforts by creationists to portray themselves as persecuted in mainstream academia for their anti-evolution beliefs are getting a boost from a Texas lawmaker" and described the bill as emulating "the strategy by creationist/'intelligent design' proponents to portray themselves as martyrs." TFN added, "Zedler's bill would ... require our colleges and universities to aid and protect academic fraud. But with the State Board of Education promoting anti-science propaganda in public schools, we shouldn't be surprised that higher education is increasingly a target as well."

Of the nine antievolution bills introduced in seven states in 2011 so far, seven — Florida's SB 1854, Kentucky's HB 169, New Mexico's HB 302, Oklahoma's SB 554 and HB 1551, and Texas's HB 2454 — are dead. Tennessee's HB 368 — nicknamed "the monkey bill" by House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh — passed in the House of Representatives, but its Senate counterpart SB 893 is on hold until 2012. In the meantime, Louisiana's Senate Bill 70, which if enacted would repeal the state's antievolution bill enacted in 2008, was shelved in the Senate Education Committee on a 5-1 vote on May 26, 2011, and is not expected to be heard again by the committee.