House passes bill to find evolution "holes"

House passes bill to find evolution "holes"
Daytona Beach News-Journal - 4/29/2008 - original
With sponsor Alan Hays saying he wants to allow teachers to expose "holes" in the theory of evolution, the Florida House approved a bill today that has spurred controversy about what can be taught in public-school science classes.

Critics repeatedly questioned Hays about whether he was trying to clear the way for teachers to talk about religious beliefs, such as creationism or a theory known as intelligent design.

"It (creationism) does not belong in science classes whatsoever," said Rep. Mary Brandenburg, D-West Palm Beach.

But Hays, a Umatilla Republican whose district includes part of Volusia County, disputed that he was trying to allow religious instruction. He said the bill will improve scientific education by allowing teachers to critically discuss evolution.

"It does not say one thing about religion," Hays said.

The bill, which passed in a 71-43 vote, would require teachers to provide a "thorough presentation and scientific critical analysis" of the theory of evolution.

Senators also have passed an evolution bill, but it is different than the House version. If an evolution bill is going to become law, the two chambers would need to reach agreement before Friday's end of the legislative session.

Rep. Joyce Cusack, D-DeLand, questioned lawmakers spending "precious time" on the evolution issue and said the bill was not necessary.

"Be fair, be honest and be upfront and get to the business of this chamber," she said during a debate.

Among Volusia and Flagler lawmakers, Cusack was the only opponent of the bill. Voting for it were Hays, Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange; Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand; Rep. Sandra Adams, R-Orlando; Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka; and Rep. William Proctor, R-St. Augustine.