Archive for March 14th, 2017

Lots and lots of bill updates today

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

senateThere’s quite a bit to talk about today. I’ll start with the Religious Liberties bills that we oppose on the grounds they can negatively impact science education. One passed the Senate judiciary committee this afternoon on a narrow, party line vote of 5-4.

I spoke at this meeting but I don’t think I performed all that great. The committee chair was impatient as the meeting was running long and he started to impose a time limit on speakers that he hadn’t for the hour leading up to this bill’s discussion. So, by the time I got up there I had already chopped two paragraphs from my planned remarks but I still felt pressure while standing before the committee chair to speed things up even more. So, I wound up stumbling and pausing a bit as I tried to make sure my most important points were covered. You can watch the video here. The Religious Liberties bills portion starts at 52:04. Sen. Dennis Baxley, the bill sponsor, irritated me a bit when in his closing remarks he said he wasn’t going to chase rabbits and red herrings, which I believe meant, at least in part, my arguments about evolution.

houseI couldn’t attend the House committee meeting that was considering that chamber’s version of the bill because it was being held the same time as the Senate meeting. But according to the news articles, there was overwhelming support for the bill. The vote was 14-0.

There are a few news articles popping up already this evening about the bill. I and Florida Citizens for Science do get good mentions in some of them.

Miami Herald: Plan to fortify religious expression in public schools quickly advancing

Sunshine State News: Religious Liberties Act Heading to the Senate Floor

Florida Politics: ‘Religious expression in public schools’ ready for full Senate vote

 

The other bills we’re tracking about Instructional Materials got some press today. But they’re, fortunately, still stuck in the starting gate with no scheduled committee meetings yet.

NBC, Channel 2, Fort Myers: Creationism, evolution optional in Florida classrooms with new bill

 

And I’ll close for now with my interview with the Tampa Bay Times’ Gradebook blog podcast that was published today: Can science and religious expression coexist in Florida public schools?

Spring break in Tallahassee

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Old_and_New_Florida_State_Capitol,_Tallahassee,_East_view_20160711_1I’m in Tallahassee today. It’s spring break for me but rather than head to a beach I decided to visit our state capitol to speak to the judiciary senate committee about Senate Bill 436. That’s the Religious Expression in Public Schools bill that we believe can harm science education. There’s still time to give the senators on the committee your opinion on this bill by just calling or emailing them this morning. Then you can watch the meeting at 2 p.m. via the committee’s webpage.

The House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee is meeting at the same time to consider their chamber’s version of the bill. I can’t be in two places at once, so I’ve chosen to be in the Senate. The House bill has a few proposed changes to it that make it a little less of a concern. Of course, we still have some issues with it, but the Senate version is unchanged at this point and so it is the higher priority.

My short speech covering our main concerns is ready to go. It will be interesting to see who else shows up with their two cents. I’ll keep you updated as best as I can. Wish me luck.