Dear State Progress Subscribers:

Welcome to the new State Progress newsletter! For our inaugural issue we discuss how states are finding innovative ways to fund stem cell research in the absence of federal funding, and how some have addressed moral and ethical implications of the science and the effect of the amniotic stem cell discovery. We welcome the opportunity to work with you on state progressive policy to build an America that serves the common good of all Americans.

If you would like to learn more about stem cell research and developing legislation to expand the science in your state, or have any comments or questions about this product, please feel free to contact me at If you would like to share this product with your friends and colleagues, they can sign up for the newsletter here.


Nicholas Rathod
Senior Manager of State and Regional Affairs
Center for American Progress

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Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Issue Briefing
Stem Cell Image Embryonic stem cell research in America is stymied by restrictive federal funding, which dangerously slows progress on critical medical cures. Federal funding can only be applied to research on 21 older stem cell lines, many of which are contaminated and unusable. Yet thousands of excess embryos that could be used to create more stem cell lines are discarded from fertility clinics every year. Congress is considering federal legislation this spring to expand the number of eligible lines; while the bill will likely pass Congress it is unclear if it will have enough votes to overturn President Bush’s expected veto. In the face of federal inaction, states are left to determine innovative ways to fund this research and carry the burden of assuring that America continues to compete with other nations in the race for life-saving cures.

Ask The Expert
State Progress sat down with Jonathan Moreno, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discusss the challenges of securing legislation in support of embryonic stem cell research at the state level and address's why amniotic stem cells will not serve as a viable alternative to embryonic stem cells for researchers.

Best Practices
There are a number of obstacles to passing legislation to fund or support stem cell research in a state. This section provides a description of a few of these obstacles and what some states have done to overcome these obstacles.

Issue Briefing
Stem Cell Research: States Lead the Way Forward
Embryonic stem cell research in America is stymied by restrictive federal funding, which dangerously slows progress on critical medical cures. Federal funding can only be applied to research on 21 older stem cell lines, many of which are contaminated and unusable. Yet thousands of excess embryos that could be used to create more stem cell lines are discarded from fertility clinics every year.

Congress is considering federal legislation this spring to expand the number of eligible lines. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 has already passed through the House and is expected to pass in the Senate as well, but it is unclear if it will have enough votes to overturn President Bush’s expected veto.

In the face of federal roadblocks to embryonic stem cell research, states have been left to determine innovative ways to fund research on their own and carry the burden of assuring that America continues to compete with other nations in the race for life-saving cures.

Progress in the States:
Eight states have so far adopted measures that provide funding for stem cell research: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In many cases, these states have been able to find the necessary money to fund embryonic stem cell research by developing public-private relationships.

New Jersey is building a $50 million institute funded by multiple sources, including private grants from corporations and the creative use of grants from the National Institutes of Health. The institute is jointly operated by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University with gubernatorial oversight.

Utilizing resources from multiple sources has proven to be an effective means of supporting state stem cell research. As such, states with prominent universities and a private sector willing to allocate some funding to investing in biomedical research should continue to pursue this cutting edge research in their state.

The Missouri Ballot Initiative:
States can also ensure that the research is protected without allocating funding for research. Missouri does not provide funding, but it did pass a ballot initiative amending the state constitution to ensure that embryonic stem cell research will remain legal. The initiative, which had broad popular support despite being in a state where anti-abortion is the state’s No. 1 lobby, ensures that Missouri patients will have equal access to any federally approved stem cell cures, that researchers will be able to conduct any federally permissible research and creates responsible ethical guidelines for stem cell research, including a strict ban on any attempt to clone a human being.

Steven Teitelbaum, Messing Professor of Pathology and Immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, explains that the campaign was able to garner support from faith leaders, organizations, physicians, and other diverse groups simply by clarifying the facts. “When we sat down with faith groups and others who were leery of this initiative and explained to them the life saving potential for this science and the myths being pushed by conservatives,” he explained, “people understood how critical the initiative was to Missouri and the country.”

If Congress does not override the expected presidential veto of legislation to allow funding for research using newer stem cell lines, states such as California, Wisconsin, and Connecticut will have to continue providing leadership on this important issue. But states can only take the country so far. Effective pursuit of any research requires collaboration, coordination, and funding resources that are only possible with significant federal involvement. Until the federal government fully supports this research, however, states must continue to take the lead and help advance progress in this life-saving research.

Best Practices
States must overcome a number of obstacles in order to pass legislation that funds or supports stem cell research. The following provides a description two of these obstacles and describes what states have done to overcome them.

Funding: Wisconsin
Governor Doyle has been successful in making Missouri a stem cell leader largely due to a committed collaborative effort between the University of Wisconsin and trade organizations such as the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Governor’s office to build and promote industry around the University’s cutting-edge embryonic stem cell research.

Governor Doyle has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars of state funds to support university research, venture capital for startup bio-medical companies, and streamlining government bureaucratic hurdles for university faculty to become entrepreneurs. He has committed to a continued investment of $105 million over the next five years in research, education, and public health efforts at the University of Wisconsin Medical School and the Medical College of Wisconsin in order to aid progress in areas such as regenerative medicine, stem cell research, molecular medicine, neuroscience, and cancer research.

These efforts have helped attract some of the countries best scientists and bio-tech companies to Wisconsin. The state has created new jobs, increased revenue, and made itself into one of the foremost places in the world for the potential development of life-saving cures.

Morality and Religion: Missouri

Missouri is traditionally a more conservative state, and both U.S. Senators voted last year against embryonic stem cell legislation. Yet research advocates in the state were able to persuade individuals, legislators, and both secular and religious groups to put the expansion of stem cell research on the 2006 ballot.

The Missouri Coalition for Life Saving Cures, the central supporter of the ballot initiative, concerned itself with public education, engaging religious groups, and focusing on the potential beneficiaries of embryonic stem cell research. The group created a website that provided resources on the myths and facts about the amendment. They worked with local religious figures such as Rev. John Danforth to spread the message to religious groups. And they also brought patients into the public discussion so that people could see the individuals who would benefit from this research.

The Coalition also brought scientists and patients to the legislature to individually meet with the most conservative legislators and lay out the facts. At the end of each meeting, legislators more often than not came out in support of this research. By reaching out to a broad range of groups and citizens, the group was able to garner widespread support for this amendment.
If you would like more information on how your state can follow the model of Wisconsin or Missouri, please contact us at

Ask the Expert
Jonathan Moreno discusses the challenges to securing state-level legislation that supports embryonic stem cell research. Responding to the moral controversy this issue often raises, Moreno shows how advocates can find support in faith communities, as well as the scientific community’s eagerness to have a voice in public debates on the issue, discussing examples of states that have been successful in passing such legislation. The interview also explains why amniotic stem cells are not a viable and less controversial alternative to embryonic stem cells for researchers.

“The critical issue here is not the dollars, it’s the message that a state [sends] to people who are interested in investing in this research and to scientists…who may be interested in participating in this research, which is clearly the future of medicine.”

“…part of our duty on Earth is to help people who are in need. I think, to a great extent, this competing value… has really gotten lost in this [debate] in the last few years. My hope is that progressives can, with people in faith traditions, begin to bring that value back into the center of conversation.”

“It’s very revelatory that people do want to hear from scientists; they respect the scientific voice. I think it would be very important for activists, elected officials and advocates to identify scientists [and good teachers] in universities and research centers in their states who…will explain, in ways that everyone can understand, why this is important, and where the science is going.”

Read the full interview here. Or download and listen to the complete audio (.mp3, 20 min, 5.7mb)


The Week Ahead
Adam Jentleson, Manager of Congressional Affairs at the Center for American Progress provides an overview of the Congressional week ahead. For more information please contact Adam at

Three things will occupy most of Congress’ time this week: debating the war in Iraq, getting minimum wage legislation through the Senate, and passing a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded through the rest of the year.

The minimum wage legislation will be the first agenda item for the Senate. A cloture vote is set for Tuesday, with members expecting a vote on final passage then or Wednesday.

The package that the Senate will vote on will likely include the $8 billion package of tax cuts supported by the Republican leadership and some Democrats, including Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT).

Since key House Democrats – chief among them Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) – have expressed strong opposition to including the tax cut package in a final version, and since supporters of the measure in the Senate do not have the votes to get the legislation through without the tax package rider (as demonstrated last week when a “clean” wage hike failed on a procedural matter), it will be up to Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi to work out a compromise between the conflicting versions.

Once it has finished with the minimum wage legislation, the Senate will take up the debate over the president’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.

At this writing, it is unclear whether the Democrats have the votes needed to pass either of the two non-binding Iraq resolutions that have been introduced so far. While Sen. Warner’s (R-VA) dissent was significant given his stature, it has also provided moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats – including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who co-sponsored the Warner resolution – a middle option between standing with the president or voting for Senator Joe Biden’s (D-DE) resolution, stating that the troop increase is “not in the national interest.”

Majority Leader Reid last week told reporters that he will continue his efforts to try to merge the two resolutions – efforts that Warner rebuffed last week. In any event, Reid expressed confidence that an Iraq debate will favor Democrats, and that the prospect of the 2008 elections, in which Senate Republicans will be defending 21 seats to Democrats’ 12, will be a big factor in the decisions of many Republicans.

It was reported last week that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is also working on his own resolution. No details have been released yet, but early reports indicated that McCain’s resolution would differ from the others by being supportive of the president’s plan but setting specific benchmarks that must be met by the Iraqi government in return for a stepped-up commitment of U.S. troops and resources.

The House is waiting for the Senate to move first on Iraq. It will devote most of its time this week to passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through the end of the year.

Staffers on the House and Senate appropriations committees worked through the weekend to put together the mammoth CR, an estimated $463.5 billion joint funding package that will cover 13 cabinet-level and smaller-level agencies.

The CR will fund most agencies and programs at “current levels” – that is, the level at which funding was appropriated last year. However, because the CR operates under the higher FY07 budget cap, there is room for increases in certain priority areas, such as veterans' benefits, health and education. Democrats pledged last year that the CR would not exclude all but necessary earmarks.

The House is expected to pass the measure Wednesday without a prolonged debate, but expect the Senate process to be more laborious.

On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will consider the nomination of Admiral William Fallon to head U.S. Central Command. The nomination is expected to be approved.

What's happening on Capitol Hill? Click here or scroll down to see our list of upcoming House and Senate Committee Hearings.

News Clips
Governors Lose in Power Struggle Over National Guard
A little-noticed change in federal law creates an important change in who is in charge the next time a state is devastated by a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. To the dismay of the nation’s governors, the White House now will be empowered to go over a governor’s head and call up National Guard troops to aid a state in a time of natural disaster or other public emergency.

New York: Spitzer Wants New York to Enter Stem Cell Race
Five years ago, the Bush administration decided to severely limit federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, a move that set off vigorous competition among the states to provide support for a research field that many scientists say could bring about major medical advances.

Pennsylvania: New Labor Pact for State Unions
The state has reached a tentative four-year agreement with a majority of its workers, offering pay raises in exchange for increased employee contributions to health benefits, Gov. Rendell said.

Wisconsin: More State Districts Add Online Education
In the continued march toward more online learning, a growing number of school districts throughout the state are looking into opening virtual schools. At least three more may be created this fall.

Maine, Other States Join Forces to Muscle EPA on Air Pollution
As a small, rural state tucked in the far corner of the country, Maine doesn't seem like much of a match for the federal government. | contact us: | unsubscribe