We monitor both the legislation of scientific activities (research funding and oversight) and the use of scientific evidence in crafting legislation (evidence-based policy). In each category, we have developed positions on particular policy issues based on scientific evidence. Once candidate bills have been identified, they are assessed for relevance to each of the following topics and evaluated according to these positions. Some bills may have broad impact across multiple categories; some may even have a positive impact in one category despite a negative or mixed impact in another. For this reason, a single bill may be evaluated in multiple categories.
Science Funding & Oversight
Science Funding: Funding science is good for the economy, promotes advances in health and technology, and keeps the US competitive on a global scale.
Government Oversight of Research: Responsible oversight of scientific research protects humans, animals, and taxpayers. Oversight decisions should be informed by evidence and involve scientists. Furthermore, decisions about how to distribute science funding once appropriated should be left to scientific experts; involving legislators or “national interest” requirements in grant decisions is an undue burden that can decrease the diversity of science and open the door to financial and political influences that are not based on evidence.
Evolution: Evolution is the scientific consensus and should be the standard in public science education.
Source: National Academies Press
Sex Education: Abstinence-only education leads to more adverse outcomes in sexual behavior. Comprehensive sex education reduces teen pregnancies and the incidence of STIs.
Public Health & Drug Policy
Health Insurance: Access to health insurance increases patients’ self-reported physical and mental health and their utilization of health services including preventive medicine. Many leading causes of death can be limited by preventive medicine, and some types of preventive medicine save money. Single-payer healthcare results in lower administrative and overall costs per patient.
Reproductive Rights: Comprehensive sex education reduces teen pregnancies and the incidence of STIs. Access to contraceptives decreases rates of unintentional pregnancy and abortion. Restricting abortion access leads to increases in illegal and unsafe abortions.
Sexual and Gender Identity: Sexual and gender identity are biologically based.
Drugs: Drug scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act is not based on scientific evidence. Preventing scientific research on drugs limits our ability to make evidence-based policy decisions and advances in health care.
Vaccines: Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary for herd immunity.
Crime & Incarceration Policy
Incarceration: Solitary confinement can have neurological and psychological effects that constitute cruel and unusual punishment. As adolescent brains are not fully developed, treating teenagers as adults in the criminal justice system is neurologically inappropriate; children treated as adults have higher rates of recidivism than those who are not treated as adults.
Gun Control: The U.S. has a higher rate of mass shootings and gun deaths than in other countries. Banning research on guns has limited our ability to make informed policy decisions. Allowing research on the effects of gun control measures on crime will enable legislators to form evidence-based gun policy.
Environment & Energy Policy
Climate Change: Climate change is real, largely due to human activity, and poses risks to public health and the economy.
Energy: Renewable energy sources conserve our environment and promote economic growth and public health.
Genetically Modified Organisms: GMOs are safe, reduce pesticide use, and serve as a tool in feeding a growing global population.