Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, introduced a new version of her Bible-in-schools bill this morning, replacing SB 1321. “Due to input from attorneys and citizens, I wanted to add a sentence,” she told the Senate State Affairs Committee: “This section shall not be construed to permit religious or doctrinal instruction.”
The rest of the bill remains the same, aiming to “expressly permit” the use of the Bible in public schools as a reference. Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, asked Nuxoll if she’d sought an Idaho Attorney General’s opinion on her bill. “I have; I just asked him to give me another opinion because of the last sentence that I added, to see if that would make a difference,” she responded. “He basically in his opinion has said as far as the federal Constitution we are constitutionally safe but he has a little bit of problem in the state, and that’s why I did add the last sentence.”
She added, “And I do have some other lawyers’ opinions on this section. Their opinions are that it’s fine, it will hold up constitutionally in the state and in federal court, Supreme Court, especially with the last sentence that I have added to it.”
Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, asked Nuxoll why she didn’t refer to other religious texts as well. “Because the Bible basically started with the foundation of our nation and it’s embedded within all of our western culture,” Nuxoll said. “And there’s no mandate here at all. Other religious texts could be brought up.”
There was a pause in which no committee member made any motion. Then, Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said, “This RS just replaces another bill; I think this is an improvement on it. I don’t know if I will support it, but I would move to print it for our senator.” Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, seconded the motion, and it passed on a divided voice vote; that allows the new version of the bill to be printed.