Oklahoma’s 2017 Creationism Bill Is ‘Blocked’

Josh Brecheen

We have some good news from Oklahoma, but it may be only temporary. You probably already know the background, so you can skip the next paragraph.

The bill under consideration is Senate Bill 393, sponsored by Josh Brecheen, which he has also sponsored in prior years. We posted its text in Oklahoma Creationism Bill for 2015. The thing is loosely based on the anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

The last time we wrote about the situation in that state was Oklahoma Is Descending into Madness. At that time, the bill had already been passed by the state Senate, and it had just been approved by a House committee. It was on its way to being considered by the entire House. The thing seemed sure to pass, so a veto by the Governor was the only hope.

But life is uncertain. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) just posted this: Oklahoma’s antiscience bill blocked. Blocked? What happened? NCSE tells us:

Oklahoma’s Senate Bill 393 (PDF), which would empower science denial in the classroom, failed to receive a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives on April 27, 2017, the last day on which it could do so, and is therefore blocked — for now.

NCSE then describes Josh Brecheen’s creationist efforts in prior years — he’s a hard-core incorrigible fanatic. In their final paragraph they explain what it means that his bill is “blocked.” They say:

Since the bill was not voted down, it is technically still alive, and the Oklahoma legislature may consider it again in the second half of the current legislative session, which begins on February 5, 2018.

A blocked bill is a new experience for us since we’ve been following creationist legislation. It’s a bit of a cliff-hanger. It’s possible that between now and the legislature’s next session, sanity may somehow prevail. But in Oklahoma, Josh Brecheen is a respected legislator, so we’re not optimistic.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Oklahoma’s 2017 Creationism Bill Is ‘Blocked’

  1. It’s happened before in Oklahoma, most recently I believe with House Bill 1674, which failed in committee in 2013 but was revived in 2014 before it died for good in committee later that year.

  2. Eddie Janssen

    Considering that Brecheen will re-introduce the bill next year if it would have been voted down (and the next year and the next year), it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

  3. Glenn Branch says: “It’s happened before in Oklahoma …”

    Thanks for the information. I marvel at your vast institutional knowledge.

  4. Ceteris Paribus

    Oklahoma appears to be on the verge of becoming a very progressive state. In March, OK House Bill 1623 was passed by a vote of 89 to 0. This bill (the “Bryan Young Act”) would protect students with disabilities from corporal punishment unless addressed in annual Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Apparently the bill is now in the hands of the OK Senate.

    In the Kansas legislature two years ago a different bill delimiting the scope of corporal punishment as “up to 10 forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child”, was declined in the KS House.

    That bill would have allowed for “reasonable physical force” for parents or schools to restrain a child during a spanking, and would acknowledge “that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result.” Because it spells out the manner in which a parent could strike a child, the proposed law would have banned hitting a child with fists, in the head, or with a belt or switch.

    Nineteen states including Oklahoma and Kansas permit various forms of corporal punishment by parents, schools, or other agents.

  5. Senator Josh Brecheen ‘respected’? Perhaps respected only by his fellow far-right Republicans with his shared repressive religiosity and similar constituents in southern Oklahoma. One of his fellow senators told me: “He is as dumb as a stump.”

    The opposition against SB 393 was by far the most massive opposition mounted against these anti-science bills in the last 17 years. Direct lobbying by individuals at the Capitol was instrumental in final actions, mostly with the House leadership the last few days, resulted in a floor leader pulling the bill from consideration. Many national and state organizations and mounted opposition, as did many individuals who sent messages. The Tulsa World published an editorial against the bill. There were letters to editors, behind the scenes lobbying by med-tech groups, and even Chambers of Commerce weighing in against the bill. NCSE was extremely helpful throughout; Glenn Branch was on top of it every day! Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education serve as an ‘umbrella’ group, but some other groups weighed in for the first time (e.g., Climate Parents).

    Although it is certainly possible that the bill is not totally dead at this point, it may not come up, but Brecheen would likely file it again for the eighth time in the next session. Thus, we remain prepared to oppose this and similar bills that seem to come up every year. Thus, this is life in Oklahoma.

  6. You did a great job, Victor.

  7. Curmudgeon: It was mostly others who carried the heavy load. Board members of OESE and one from Climate Parents spoke before Senate Committee, but were given only five minutes total (1.6 minutes each) to speak! And they had to say within that time who they were and who they represented. A local creationist spoke for the bill, but had a full five minutes.