Haslam to allow evolution bill to become law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- Legislation to protect teachers who allow students to criticize evolution and other scientific theories will become law without the governor's signature.

Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement on Tuesday that he doesn't believe the legislation accomplishes anything that isn't already acceptable in schools. However, he said the measure seems to bring more confusion than clarity.

“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," said Haslam. "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.”

The Republican governor had said he'd likely sign the proposal, which encourages critical thinking by protecting teachers from discipline if they help students critique "scientific weaknesses."

Last week, Haslam was handed a petition with more than 3,000 signatures urging him to veto the legislation.

Scientists in Tennessee and the American Association for the Advancement of Science say evolution is established science that shouldn't be taught as a controversy.

The legislation is the first Haslam has let become law without his signature.

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