Two states are in the news this weekend, Maryland and Georgia. In Maryland, the proposed $25 million per year bill for stem cell research passed two committees in the House of Delegates and is now going to the full floor for debate. This is a separate bill from the proposed $20 million called for by the governor as part of his budget proposal. The Washington Post
reports that the bills passed committee largely along party lines and that Republicans say language in the bill giving preference to projects not eligible for federal funding would give most of the money to embryonic stem cell research. The Baltimore Sun
reports that Governor Ehrlich’s plan includes an additional $13.5 million for a center for regenerative medicine in Baltimore, and that the House of Delegates Speaker expects the bill to be introduced for debate on Monday.
Meanwhile in Georgia, the Gwinnett Daily Post
(how’s that for mainstream media?) reports on conflicting bills in the state Senate. One, introduced two weeks ago, authorizes embryonic stem cell research, while the second, introduced this week, is an umbilical cord blood bill. The sponsor of the latter says that he is sidestepping the controversy and allowing research to go forward. He is also the chair of the Senate Science and Technology Committee. Both bills prohibit human reproductive cloning. The first bill, SB 537
, permits somatic cell nuclear transfer. The second bill, SB 596
, prohibits cloning for research purposes.
I’m having trouble imagining embryonic stem cell research passing in Georgia, the state of the “evolution is not a fact” textbook sticker. Something is obviously going to happen in Maryland, but it’s unclear to me what the final outcome will be.
States are really separating from each other on a number of issues—not just stem cell research, but also abortion, gay marriage, tobacco, teaching of anti-evolutionist ideas…. I don’t see any of these as becoming issues that would precipitate a civil war as the division over slavery did, but something is going to come to some kind of a head at some point. It’s all very well to have state’s rights if you’re afraid that your federal government will become tyrannical, a la George III, but if states become too separate from each other how do you have any sort of a national agenda?