Three antiscience bills die in Florida

No fewer than three bills — Senate Bill 330, House Bill 855, and Senate Bill 1451 — threatening the integrity of science education in the Sunshine State died in committee when the Florida legislature adjourned sine die on May 4, 2019, as Florida Citizens for Science noted in a May 4, 2019, blog post.

Senate Bill 330 would have required "[c]ontroversial theories and concepts" discussed in science standards "[to] be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner." Although there is no indication in the bill about which "theories and concepts" are deemed to be "controversial," much less any guidance about adjudicating disputes about which are and which are not, the bill's sole sponsor, Dennis Baxley (R-District 12), has a history of antievolution advocacy, as NCSE previously reported.

House Bill 855 and Senate Bill 1454 would have required instructional materials used in the public schools to be "accurate and factual; provide objective, balanced, and noninflammatory viewpoints on controversial issues; [and] free of pornography." No definition of "controversial" was provided. The bills also would have expanded the ability of Floridians to challenge instructional materials to which they take exception. A revised and not-as-problematic version of HB 855 passed the PreK-12 Quality Committee.

"It's a relief that these bad bills got little to no traction this year," Florida Citizens for Science's Brandon Haught told NCSE. "But the fact they were even filed shows that we can't be complacent. It's frustrating that quality science education needs defenders. But we'll be back at it next year."