A football game might be the headline event in Indianapolis this winter, but don’t count out the Indiana General Assembly for entertainment. Legislation already filed promises to command attention when lawmakers convene Wednesday, including a bill to allow schools to teach creationism.
Indiana’s part-time legislature has been meeting annually since 1972, with even-numbered years reserved for emergency issues and tweaking laws. For 2012, Sen. Dennis Kruse has identified local school boards’ right to require the teaching of creationism as one of those pressing issues.
Kruse, a Republican from Auburn, filed a creationism bill as a state representative in 2000. It died in committee in the Democratic-controlled House, but Kruse now is chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and Republicans control both chambers. Democrats were powerless to stop any GOP education bill last year, including the voucher program under challenge in a Marion County court.
If Kruse’s creation science bill is approved, a legal challenge is inevitable, according to Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.
The U.S. Supreme found Louisiana’s creation-science law unconstitutional. Since the 1987 decision, efforts to chip away at the teaching of evolution have taken different approaches, but none have revived the creation-science approach offered in Kruse’s bill.
The law is very, very clear on this, Scott said. If this bill is passed, it is going to be challenged, and they will lose. The case law is so strong against them.
Aside from a bill with troublesome legal implications, others on the agenda include:
A bill to eliminate Indiana high school class basketball.
Legislation requiring public schools and universities to enter into a performance contract with any person or group performing the national anthem at a school-sponsored event.
A bill that makes it legal to manufacture or possess a switchblade.
Granted, the legislature is set to address some of the clean-up issues intended for its short sessions. One proposed bill would overturn legislation approved last year to leave the names of unopposed candidates off the ballot. Another allows county auditors to require additional proof before granting a homestead deduction.
How refreshing it would be if the General Assembly avoided inevitable legal battles and limited its work to the intended use of a 30-day session.