Assembly Digest

ASSEMBLY DIGEST

February 08, 2005

Bill seeks $25 million annually in stem-cell research funding

Immersing the state into the debate over embryonic stem-cell research, Sen. Paula C. Hollinger and Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg announced yesterday the introduction of a bill that would spend $25 million in state money annually on the research.

The Democratic lawmakers were surrounded by a diverse coalition of supporters, including religious figures, researchers, a 12-year-old suffering from juvenile diabetes and a 50-year-old father with Parkinson's disease.

The research would be funded through the state's cigarette restitution fund, beginning in fiscal year 2007. The lawmakers said the bill - which would ban human cloning - would provide research for dozens of debilitating conditions and support Maryland's biotechnology companies.

The bill will likely face a battle. Representatives from the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Maryland Right to Life organization handed out literature yesterday supporting their position that destroying embryos is destroying human life. Senate Republicans also vow a filibuster if the bill reaches the floor, said Sen. Andrew P. Harris, the minority whip.

Ehrlich, veterans push for sales tax exemption

More than 150 veterans and military supporters joined Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday to urge lawmakers to pass a measure that would exempt qualified veterans from paying state sales tax on their military retirement income.

At a news conference outside the State House, the governor said the legislation would keep veterans in Maryland. The legislation is expected to benefit 46,243 retired military veterans in Maryland.

Ehrlich promised during his campaign and recent State of the State address that he would push for the legislation because veterans have been leaving Maryland to seek more tax-friendly states. No hearings on the bill have been scheduled, but more than 60 delegates and two dozen senators have signed on as co-sponsors.

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