May 14, 2009
Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan), with the help of colleague Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), managed to move his stem cell study bill through the Senate this afternoon with barely a ripple of controversy and one technical amendment.
The bill, Senate Bill 2573, is intended to gather as much information as possible on human cloning and human stem cell research in state agencies, as well as colleges and universities. The types of research comes in three categories: embryonic; genetic; and lab mutated. Dr. Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) deciphered the medical terminology of the bill for his colleagues, saying the documentation required by the bill would cover the full spectrum of research.
SB 2573 amends the state’s Health and Safety Code. Texas is one of the few states that has no regulation regarding research. According to the bill, all state agencies that conduct, fund or support biomedical research must report the parameters of that research to the governor, Legislative Budget Board and the commissioner of the Department of State Health Services.
Ogden originally drafted the state budget to prohibit embryonic stem cell research. This bill is his concession to colleagues, to get a full picture before lawmakers gather again and make a final decision on the issue.
Ogden said, and Watson reinforced, that the bill caption was to gather information in order to make policy decisions on the issue next session. No amendment would be accepted from the House that would suggest any type of funding or action. Nor will institutions be forced to divulge private information. Watson’s amendment outlined dealing with the information in a proprietary way.
A variety of information will be gathered: the type of research; the type of cells and processing method used; the amount of state funding expended; the specific state facilities used; and the progress or results of the research. Watson added language that would include federal and grant funding to the list.