Arizona Lawmakers Forming Science Caucus; Darwin Day Proposed

If you believe the stereotypes about Arizona, then pigs are flying around the state Legislature.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are coming together to form a science and technology caucus to work with the scientific community in promoting research in the state.

"We should do a lot of work with the scientific community and help nurture these interests here in our own state," Democratic Representative Andrew Sherwood tells New Times. "This is part of job development; this is part of education."

Sherwood, who's been planning such a caucus for a few years now, says he's aware that states often brand other states, but says Arizona has played a significant role in scientific development for which it doesn't always get credit.

"Arizona has a long and prolific history doing scientific research," he says. Sherwood listed some of the accomplishments, like the mapping for the moon landings being done at Lowell Observatory, and the Mayo Clinic, TGen, and the research at Arizona State University's science facilities (the university is in his district).

"I would like very much for Arizona to be a branded a froward-thinking, scientifically positive state," he adds.

Although it hasn't officially been announced at this point, the caucus will be chaired by one Republican and one Democrat in both the House and the Senate. Sherwood's Republican counterpart will be Representative Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff.

The caucus will meet once a month while the legislature is in session, and they'll meet with the purpose of developing ideas as lawmakers to see what they can do to further scientific research in the state, Sherwood says.

And on that note, we'll point out that Sherwood this week also introduced a resolution calling for Arizona's participation in the International Darwin Day, which was created to celebrate Darwin's life and findings. Sherwood may have a harder time finding widespread support for that notion, but he's already getting media attention on the resolution, as something you don't often see out of Arizona.

"It's 2015, it's time we start celebrating science," Sherwood says.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley