Illinois Gubernatorial Action
Illinois Gubernatorial Action
The Champaign-Urbana News Gazette reports that Illinois Governor filed an executive order eliminating oversight of the state’s stem cell grant program. Now, this news article is less than stellar in its writing, containing phrases such as “by $10 million that had been hidden in the budget under the vague description of ‘scientific research,’” “circumvented the legislative process,” “Those rules would have had to have been,” and “Back in July,” which suggest either a fairly strong opinion on the part of the writer (in the first two) and just plain poor writing (the second two). The facts are a little bit incoherent as well, and the nature of the writing leads me to have some doubt about their completeness/accuracy. But the sequence appears to be that
1) last spring the state legislature failed to pass a bill for stem cell research;
2) the governor issued an executive order in July requiring the state Dept. of Public Health “to adopt rules for the issuance and administration of stem cell research grants”. The funding reportedly came from an umbrella budget line for “scientific research”;
3) The General Assembly's Joint Commission on Administrative Rules was required to approve the rules adopted by the Dept. of Public Health;
4) The new executive order eliminates the adoption of the rules.
According to the article,
Now, I don’t really feel like spending my time reviewing the two executive orders, the charter for the DPH, or other stuff, so I’m not giving you a researched opinion here. But it seems to me that the legislature did not need to allow “scientific research” to be a budget line if they didn’t want the governor to appropriate it as he saw fit. Should stem cell research be debated? Well, yes, given the current climate. This may well have been a mistake in judgment on the governor’s part, if only because he’s going to tick a lot of people off, but if there was a budget line for research already, and people want to spend money on embryonic stem cell research, then why not? I can’t imagine that the grants are going to be given without scientific review of the proposals, which should ensure that the money will be reasonably well spent. Or does the legislature propose reviewing all grant applications in every scientific field itself?
"The Department of Public Health already has the authority to issue grants without promulgating rules, so the language that was in the order was not needed," said Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff. "So in order to issue grants and get research started as quickly as possible, the second executive order just clarifies that the department can use the authority it already has."
State Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, said the problem was not the governor's support for stem cell research, but the way he chose to go about it. "Some people are for this issue and some people are against this issue," said Rutherford, who is a member of the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules. "The fact is, we should be able to present it in full public disclosure, have it debated and have it decided as a consensus of the General Assembly. I think its [sic] inappropriate for the governor to say he's going to have his state agency receive money without having any guidelines or oversight as to how they're going to spend this money or give it out to people without having legislative oversight."