On Thursday in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee voted down SB 175, a bill to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008 (LSEA). This is the fourth time in as many years that the Committee blocked repeal from reaching the floor of the Senate.
Last year, the Committee’s Chair, Senator Conrad Appel (R., Metairie), asked the LSEA’s adversaries to produce evidence that the LSEA caused harm to someone, somewhere. In an attempt to this year satisfy that request, Senator Karen Carter Peterson (D., New Orleans), the sponsor of repeal bill SB 175, testified that the LSEA generated a lawsuit against the Sabine Parish School District.
In response to Senator Peterson’s claim, I testified as follows: "Senator Peterson mentioned that the LSEA generated the Sabine Parish lawsuit. That is incorrect. I speak as an attorney familiar with all the papers in this case. The LSEA was not implicated in any way." (See here for those papers; note, if you have time, the absence of any reference to the LSEA in these papers.)
Shortly after, Senator Elbert Guillory (R., Opelousas) motioned to defer (kill) the repeal bill. Senator Dan Claitor (R., Baton Rouge) then substitute motioned to report the bill favorably (i.e., move it to the Senate floor). Senator Mike Walsworth (R., West Monroe) objected to the substitute motion.
Senator Appel next requested from the Committee secretary a recorded vote on the substitute motion. Senators Guillory, Walsworth, and Senator Mack "Bodi" White (R., Baton Rouge) voted against the substitute motion; Senator Claitor voted for it.
After the substitute motion failed, Senator Appel addressed again Senator Guillory’s original motion to defer the bill, to which Senator Claitor objected. Senator Appel requested a recorded vote on the motion to defer. Senators Guillory, Walsworth, and White voted to defer; Senator Claitor voted against.
The 3-1 Committee vote this year against repeal is one vote down from last year, which was 3-2 and included the support of Senator Eric LaFleur (D., Ville Platte), who did not show up this time. Biologist Donald Ewert, student Jon Beard, and activist Gene Mills testified in support of the LSEA and in opposition to its repeal, among others.
Dr. Ewert concluded his testimony with the following admonishment: "I recommend that the education system of Louisiana continue to encourage students and teachers to supplement the materials in textbooks and to lead them to exercise critical thinking within the parameters of science."
Photo: Louisiana Senate Chamber/Flickr.