Finance chair Steve Ogden has just promised to clarify his rider prohibiting the use of state funds in embryonic stem cell research, acknowledging that its broad language probably goes too far. “I have recently passed around what I think might be better language” which he will substitute in conference committee, Ogden said. The revised rider would prohibit the use of state money “to directly fund embryonic stem cell research” until the state Legislature passes “legislation regulating embryonic stem cell research.” He said adding the word “directly” would mean that researchers at state universities could continue their work if it is funded by other entities. Opponents of the original rider had been concerned that embryonic stem cell researchers would no longer be able to work in state-supported institutions. Sen. Kirk Watson told Ogden he remained opposed to the rider and called its adoption by the Finance Committee “a failed process.” “The lack of certainty about what this rider means is one reason I have such significant heartburn,” Watson said. He took issue, in particular, to the “lack of process so there might be clarified” what impact the rider would have. The committee, Watson said should have invited people “to help us parse words and help us undestand what that might mean to research.” In a lighter moment, Sen. Judith Zaffirini asked Ogden whether the controversial rider might simply be stripped by a conference committee with the House. “Especially if you are on the committee,” he replied.
SB 1 passes with five no votes: Watson, Eliot Shapleigh, Mario Gallegos, Rodney Ellis, Wendy Davis.