Haslam Lets Evolution Bill Become Law Without His Signature

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that he will allow controversial legislation that critics call “the monkey bill” to become law without his signature, marking the first time he has declined to sign a measure passed by the General Assembly.
The bill declares that teachers cannot be disciplined for allowing discussion of alternatives to prevailing scientific theories such as evolution. Supporters say it will encourage “critical thinking” by students while critics say it is intended to promote creationism as an alternative to evolution.
A week ago, Haslam said “probably so” when asked if he would sign the bill. He has since received a petition signed by 3,200 persons urging a veto of the bill and letters from several scientists and others calling for a veto.
Haslam issued this statement on his decision:
“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact. I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers. However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.
“The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature.”

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