Watson evolution bill goes to Gov. Haslam

photo Tennessee Senator Bo Watson
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

NASHVILLE - The House on Monday sent to Gov. Bill Haslam a controversial bill sponsors say protects teachers who discuss the "strengths and scientific weaknesses" of scientific theories such as evolution and climate change.

House members voted 72-23 and accepted the Senate version, sponsored by Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson. It changed language in the bill and states the conversations are to take place only within the "framework" of the state's science curriculum.

Three Vanderbilt University scientists charged Monday in a letter to the Tennessean newspaper that state lawmakers are "doing the unbelievable: attempting to roll the clock back to 1925 by attempting to insert religious beliefs in the teaching of science."

That is a reference to a 1925 Tennessee law that banned the teaching of evolution and led to the infamous "Monkey Trial" in Dayton, Tenn., in which teacher John Scopes was tried and convicted for violating the law.

The scientists charged the bill is "misleading, unnecessary, likely to provoke unnecessary and divisive legal proceedings, and likely to have adverse economic consequences for the state."