This is the day scheduled for the adjournment of the Louisiana legislature, so whatever damage they can do this year is essentially done. Our last legislative update was Louisiana Creationism: Three Days Left.
As originally drafted and passed by the House, the bill would change the functions of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). It would remove BESE’s state-wide power to adopt textbooks, and add a provision saying that BESE can’t require “specific textbooks or other instructional materials that are to be purchased or used” by local school boards. Each local school board would then be able to select its own textbooks and materials, and that would open the floodgates for creationist texts.
But it passed in the Senate with two amendments, one of which really changed things. That amendment would create a new Task Force on Textbooks and Instructional Materials. Then the bill went back to the House. When we last looked, the Senate’s amendments were removed by a House committee and the thing went to the floor of the House. It seemed to us then that there wasn’t going to be enough time to get both chambers to agree — but we were wrong.
Looking at things now, it appears that it was passed again by the House (yeas 95, nays 0), but this time with the Senate changes, and it’s been “Enrolled and signed by the Speaker of the House,” then “Signed by the President of the Senate,” and then “Sent to the Governor for executive approval.”
So what is this new law? Here’s a link to the text of the “enrolled” bill: HOUSE BILL NO. 116. It’s a bunch of legislative gobbledegook, and we’re not going to spend much time studying it. The Task Force on Textbooks and Instructional Materials is created, but it seems to have advisory powers only. It will have 18 members, and details are provided for how each one will be chosen. Most interesting of all is this near the end:
The task force shall terminate and all authority for its existence shall end June 30, 2014.
So whatever this thing is, it’s a one-year wonder. Now it seems hardly worth the attention we gave it. Besides, how could things get any worse in Louisiana?
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