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US state stem cell policy update

24 April 2007
Appeared in BioNews 404

Florida's Senate Commerce Committee has approved two amendments to the constitution; one that provides for $20 million a year for ten years for stem cell research, including research using human embryos, and another, the 'Florida Hope Offered through Principled, Ethically Sound Stem Cell Research Act' - the 'HOPE Act' - which would ban state funding for embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research whilst funding research using cells harvested from other sources, such as umbilical cord blood. The measures require over 610,000 signatures before they can be placed on the ballot box.

In Michigan, the state Governor, Jennifer Granholm, has expressed support for proposals to relax the currently restrictive state laws on ES cell research. Republican Andy Meisner has presented legislation that would permit research on embryos 'left over' afterIVF only with the informed consent of the donors. 'Certainly no one could argue that it's better to put an embryo in the garbage than it is to use for medical research', argued Meisner. The legislation would also increase the punishment for human cloning to a 15-year felony. 'The Michigan laws that restrict stem cell research are outdated from a time before scientists really understood the amazing potential that stem cells hold', Granholm said.

ES cell research has suffered a setback, however, in Texas, where the House State Affairs Committee has approved legislation that would ban state funding of ES cell research in line with federal law as of 1 January 2007. The current US federal position on ES cell research, as introduced by President Bush on 9 August 2001, is that research can only be conducted on cell lines derived prior to that date. Republican David Swinford, who chaired the Texan committee, expressed that 'I'm not for embryonic stem cell research, because I believe that life begins at conception and that's killing a living human being'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Actions Taken on Stem Cell-Related Legislation in Florida, Maryland, Texas
Kaiser Network |  19 April 2007
Florida Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Whether Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ballot Proposals Meet State Requirements
Kaiser Network |  18 April 2007
Panel OKs barring state funds for embryonic stem cell research
Houston Chronicle |  17 April 2007
Stem Cell Debate Rekindles in Michigan
Houston Chronicle |  19 April 2007
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