SD panel kills bill on teaching intelligent design
By Chet Brokaw
PIERRE (AP) — A South Dakota senator on Thursday killed his proposal that would have allowed teachers to discuss whether a higher power played a role in creation, saying it was too poorly written to pass.
The Senate Education Committee voted to kill the measure, which sought to ensure teachers could tell students about intelligent design, the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone.
The measure's main sponsor, Sen. Jeff Monroe, R- Pierre, said he had to scrap the bill because it was badly written but didn't elaborate. He said supporters from across the nation have said there are far better ways to address the issue, but he declined to say what he might do in the future.
"I don't mind a good fight, but the amount of good that would have come from the bill would have been outweighed by all the misconceptions people have had," Monroe said. "I didn't want to put the people in that committee in a tight sport. Some agreed with the bill, but they would have had to vote against it, based on the fact it was written poorly."
The bill's entire text was: "No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics."
The issue has arisen in other states where education officials have debated whether instruction on evolution should include mention of a possible intelligent designer.
Also at Monroe's request, the committee killed another bill that would have allowed a teacher to provide instruction on what the bill termed "personhood before birth." Monroe said the bill wasn't needed because the Legislature is looking at other measures dealing with that general subject.
The committee's chair, Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, said she doesn't know how the bills would have fared if Monroe had decided to push them. She said she assumes he wants to work on other language that would have a better chance of passing.