by Steven Ertelt
January 2, 2006
Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — The New Jersey state legislature is preparing to end one legislative session and start the next. When it does, that could spell the end of legislation to spend $350 million in taxpayer funds on destructive embryonic stem cell research.
The measure cleared the state Senate 28-8, but stalled in the state Assembly, where lawmakers are concerned that borrowing so much money to pay for the controversial research during a time when the state is in financial troubles doesn’t make much sense.
Acting Gov. Richard Codey, a Democrat, has lobbied heavily for the bill but Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts, also a Democrat, wouldn’t comment on what, if anything, he would do to help the legislation.
Members of the Assembly are scheduled to have one more voting day on January 9 in what will be their final meeting of the 2005 legislative session. Both the House and the Senate hold reorganization days on the 10th and begin new sessions on January 17.
Any legislation that doesn’t get approved on January 9 will have to start over in both chambers and go through the committee and floor vote process anew.
Apart from the financial concerns, pro-life groups have lobbied heavily against the bill because part of the money would support research using embryonic stem cells. Those cells can only be obtained by destroying unborn children in their earliest days.
Assemblyman Douglas Fisher, a Democrat, told the Express News he thinks the stem cell measure is dead for the session. He said lawmakers aren’t anxious to pass the bill during the lame duck session.
The bill uses $145 million in tax money to build stem cell research centers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
The measure is intended to be put before voters on the November 2006 ballot.
While adult stem cells have produced treatments for dozens of diseases and conditions, embryonic stem cell research has yet to cure any patients and has problems with patients’ immune systems rejecting the cells.