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Stem cells and the budget battle

Other than voter ID, we really haven’t had a big fight in the Lege this session. Burka thinks Sen. Steve Ogden’s scurrilous stem cell rider could be the next big brawl.

The Ogden rider is not in the House bill, but it is likely that the conservatives will offer the identical language as a floor amendment to the House committee substitute. [House Appropriations Chair Jim] Pitts will oppose it. If the amendment passes, it will be in both bills and will become part of the conference committee report. I believe that if it comes to a vote, it will fail.

It’s all about 2010 GOP primary politics, of course. Never mind what would be good for Texas. There will be a rally in support of removing this rider from the budget this morning at the Capitol by Texans for Advancement of Medical Research. Click on to read their press release.

That won’t be the only thing to fight about, of course – Burka has three other posts highlighting various amendments to the budget, many of which seek to divert or restrict money in the Texas Enterprise Fund, a/k/a the Governor’s slush fund. That has the potential for more entertainment value, mostly for the gratuitous Perry-bashing that it will allow. No shortage of things to keep an eye on, that’s for sure.

Oh, and the House yesterday approved $3.3 billion in supplemental spending, which included $700 million for hurricane relief. It passed by a margin of 141 to five on second reading. As far as I know, no teabags were harmed in the passage of that bill.

UPDATE: Here for your perusal is the Legislative Study Group analysis of the budget, also known as CSSB1. It gives a detailed overview of all appropriations in each article of the budget, including a breakdown of federal stimulus funds, plus a description and rating of each amendment, of which there are well over 100. Only a handful of amendments are rated as “Unfavorable”, with most of them being aimed at the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office (it’s long been a GOP desire to move prosecution of political crimes out of Travis County) or at undocumented immigrants; the former amendments come from Rep. Wayne Christian, the latter from (who else?) Rep. Leo Berman. Check it out.

Texans for Advancement of Medical Research

Legislators, Patients and Advocates Oppose Efforts to Cripple Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 16, 2009
Contact: Joe Brown, President TAMR, 713-218-8888

The future of cutting-edge medical research into embryonic stem cells is on the line in Texas as the House takes up debate on a state budget Friday. The House is expected to vote on the budget either Friday or over the weekend. The Senate’s version of the budget includes a provision that bars public funding for embryonic stem cell research, a measure that could limit even privately funded research at publicly funded facilities. It would chase away top scientists, strand Texas far behind other state’s that are supporting this promising medical research, and undermine the hope so many families have that this research could lead to treatments for serious medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and cancer.

House members, an economist, patients and patient advocates will speak at a press conference at 8:45 a.m. on Friday (April 17) about the importance of keeping this irresponsible provision out of the state budget.

WHAT: Press conference on efforts to block funding limits for embryonic stem cell research in the state budget

WHEN: 8:45 a.m., Friday, April 17

WHERE: West Steps of the Capitol (In case of rain the event will be just inside West entrance to the capitol, directly below the House Chamber.)

WHO:

Professor Bernard Weinstein, Director of the Center for Economic Development and Research and a professor of applied economics at the University of North Texas in Denton

Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, Partner and Medical Director of the Texas Fertility Center and Austin IVF

Representative Ellen Cohen, Houston

Representative Rick Hardcastle, Vernon

Margaret Sampson, Attorney at Vinson & Elkins, LLP and PhD in Molecular and Human Genetics

Advocate and Patient Emma and Sara Garrett

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