by Steven Ertelt
November 24, 2006
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Florida voters may consider competing stem cell research proposals on the November 2008 ballot. That’s because supporters and opponents of forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research are trying to collect enough signatures to get their measures put before state voters.
One measure would prohibit the state from spending any tax funds on the destructive research while another would have $200 million in public funds handed over to researchers over 10 years.
Should both measures pass, legal experts say the courts would likely have to determine the outcome.
However, there is also a chance neither measure will pass because voters approved a ballot measure earlier this month requiring changes to the state constitution to reach a 60 percent threshold.
According to a Palm Beach Post newspaper report, about half of the measure proposed since 1976 have failed as just 15 of 28 reached that level.
Floridians for Stem Cell Research and Cures, headed by Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, is backing the funding measure after Florida lawmakers rejected spending tax money on the unproven research.
In the state Senate in April, lawmakers narrowly missed adding an amendment to a bill that would have provided regulations for the research and $15 million for it. Half of the 40 members of the Senate voted for the measure, but a two-thirds vote was needed to amend the bill, so it failed.
Meanwhile, Boca Raton mortgage banker Susan Cutaia, who is the head of Citizens for Science and Ethics, is behind the effort to get voters to approve a short constitutional amendment saying, "No revenue of the state shall be spent on experimentation that involves the destruction of a live human embryo."
"Many taxpayers believe that the research presents a moral and ethical problem," Cutaia told the newspaper. "You’re going to take human life and destroy it so you can provide a better quality of life?"
Some attorneys the Post newspaper contacted said the language may have problems and they contended that "life human embryo" may be too vague a term.
Thus far, the pro-embryonic stem cell research group has received more money than the pro-life organization and leads by a $365,000-$71,000 margin.
Neither group has a significant number of petitions signed, but both have surpassed the 10 percent mark that then requires the state Supreme Court to look at the constitutionality of the ballot language.