Stem Cell Progress Left Up to the States

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The House may have passed a bill calling for an end to the federal ban on new embryonic stem cell research lines, but we’re still a long way from dollars coming down from the feds (assuming the bill survives a veto). Thus more and more states are continuing to take action, proposing millions to get the research moving, creating what is essentially de facto foundations for research that should be the domain of the National Institutes of Health. Currently, New Jersey, California, Maryland and Connecticut, Maryland and Illinois all mandate state spending to support ESCR (though to date only two, New Jersey and Illinois, have state-funded research in the works). We can now add three more states tp the list of those that could proactively fund this voter-supported research:

Iowa – On Thursday Gov. Chet Culver (D) called on the state Legislature to lift the state’s five-year-old ban on a type of embryonic stem cell research called somatic nuclear transfer and proposed the construction of a $12.5 million Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Florida- On Tuesday state rep. Franklin Sands (D) filed a bill that would require the state to provide at least $20 million annually over the next 10 years for research using human embryonic stem cells, amniotic fluid-derived stem cells and adult stem cells.

New Mexico- Gov. (and presidential hopeful) Bill Richardson (D) submitted a state budget to his legislature earlier this month that proposes providing $10 million over three years on facilities, equipment, training and staffing for an adult and embryonic stem cell research center at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

Good. But considering how long it has taken to get these programs off the ground — California’s voter-approved $3 billion initiative passed in 2004 is still wrapped up in court — it’s a little like moving sand with a thimble while the shovel sits in Executive lockdown.

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