S.D. Lawmakers Reject ‘Intelligent Design’ Bill

South Dakota’s House Education Committee has rejected an anti-science bill that would have allowed public schools to teach “intelligent design,” a code term for creationism.

Senate Bill 55, which the House committee voted down 9-6 on Feb. 22, asserted that public school teachers can introduce “in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information.”

Dubbed an “Academic Freedom Bill,” the bill didn’t explicitly mention evolution or creationism, but its broad language has appeared in other states and has been used to give teachers leeway to introduce creationism in class.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jeff Monroe, had tried to introduce similar legislation in 2014 and said his next attempt would be generically worded, as SB55 was. Americans United sent a letter to House committee leaders on Feb. 3 expressing opposition to the bill’s content.

“Rather than promote scientific thought, (the bill) would authorize teachers to discuss and teach ‘intelligent design’ as a ‘critique’ or ‘weakness’ of evolution,” AU’s Legislative Director Maggie Garrett wrote.

While South Dakota’s bill is dead for the legislative year, other states with similar bills pending are Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas.