On cooler reflection, the bills setting up a $3 billion, 10-year commitment for cancer research still face significant challenges. While the Senate today gave approval to a constitutional amendment and enabling legislation, an amendment tacked on by Troy Fraser will require the House to concur with 100 votes. I’m told that has to occur by Friday, or the proposal dies.
The legislation had a rocky path last week: advocates expected David Dewhurst to re-refer the bill from Finance, where chairman Steve Ogden opposed it, to sponsor Jane Nelson’s Health and Human Services Committee. Fireworks erupted behind closed doors when that failed to occur; dramatic testimony late Friday by cyclist Lance Armstrong helped the measures win passage to the floor.
There’s legitimate concerns among fiscal conservatives of the wisdom of borrowing for such a purpose, but there are also some interesting black-helicopter-type theories about why eleventh-hour opposition is circling. Remember that Rick Perry proposed that the state sell the lottery in order to pay for the cancer research fund. With that proposal dead for the session, are lottery-sale advocates hoping the cancer bills also perish? So that they can have a compelling reason like cancer research to argue for sale of the lottery next session? Catch Lance’s tailwinds in 09?
As someone told me today, just because it’s a black-helicopter theory, doesn’t mean there isn’t a black helicopter out there.