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Published: Thursday, 10/20/2005

GOP drops bid to ban stem-cell funding

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - A controversial bill prohibiting the spending of state Third Frontier money on research involving human embryonic stem cells and cloning has been indefinitely shelved by House Republican leadership.

"We had a heart-to-heart, well-thought-out discussion, but when it was concluded, we talked about where we are for votes on this," House Speaker Jon Husted said (R., Kettering) yesterday. "I informed Rep. [Mike] Gilb (R., Findlay) and the advocates that we do not have sufficient support among Republicans to pass the bill. They have indicated to me that they will pursue Democrat votes to break off from their leadership to pass the bill."

House Minority Leader Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) insisted they won't find Democratic votes.

"Our caucus is united," he said. "We spoke at length about the importance of allowing scientific research to continue in our state ..."

On Nov. 8, voters will be asked to approve a three-part, $2 billion Ohio Jobs bond issue, $500 million of which would be earmarked for Gov. Bob Taft's existing Third Frontier initiative.

The program provides financial support for high-tech and biomedical research and product development.

The $500 million failed at the polls two years ago when it appeared on the ballot alone.

This time it has been packaged with a $1.35 billion bond renewal and expansion for local public works projects and $150 million for improvements associated with shovel-ready commercial and industrial development.

Some conservative groups have urged defeat of the bond package because of the lack of a statute prohibiting the use of the funds for embryonic stem-cell research.



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