Watered down stem cell ban added to higher ed omnibus bill

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The Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday adopted an amendment by Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, that would prohibit state or federal money from going to somatic cell nuclear transfer, a type of embryonic stem cell research, in Minnesota. A broader bill, which would criminalize that type of stem cell research, awaits a vote on the Senate floor. The full omnibus bill passed out of key committees on Thursday and has moved to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The amendment offered by Sen. Fischbach to the higher ed bill states:

No state funds or federal funds the state receives for state programs may be used to either support human cloning or to pay for any expenses incidental to human cloning. For purposes of this section, “cloning” means generating a genetically identical copy of an organism at any stage of development by combining an enucleated egg and the nucleus of a somatic cell to make an embryo.

The higher ed bill with the SCNT ban passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on a party line vote on Wednesday.

Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, told the Senate Finance Committee Thursday, “We want to be a leader on research and development and to have this provision in here will curtail our ability to do that research. It’s a pretty sweeping thing that’s been put in this bill.”

The bill passed the finance committee and will now head to the Senate floor.