Legislative Digest


April 01, 2005

Senate panel approves stem cell research bill

A divisive bill to fund embryonic stem cell research is poised to reach the Senate floor, if supporters can confirm they have the 29 votes needed to end a threatened filibuster.

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Matters committee approved an amended version of the bill yesterday. The revision eliminates the $25 million annual funding source of the bill, leaving it up to the governor to fund the research in his budget.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has said he won't bring the bill to the floor unless he is assured that there are 29 senators who would vote to end a filibuster. Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, sponsor of the bill, said yesterday she "probably" had 28 senators who would vote to end a filibuster and was working on getting at least one more vote. A similar bill was approved by the House of Delegates on Monday, earmarking $23 million a year, starting in 2007, for embryonic stem cell research. The money would come from the state's share of a national tobacco settlement. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has not taken a position on the bills.

Capital budget receives House of Delegates nod

The House of Delegates approved a nearly $1 billion capital budget yesterday that includes $250 million for public school construction and renovation, nearly $100 million more than Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. originally proposed.

The capital spending plan now goes to the Senate, which has authorized a different formula for funding schools, at a lower amount. Differences between the two chambers will be worked out by a conference committee.

The House plan identifies specific schools that would receive improvements, a listing that Ehrlich supporters say removes authority from the governor, who traditionally has been able to make spending recommendations in part as a way to reward friends and punish enemies.

Wider hate crime statute gets committee's OK

A Senate committee yesterday approved a measure that would expand protection under the state's hate crimes statute to include gays and lesbians.

In a 6-5 vote, members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed the legislation after a lengthy debate. Some Republican and Democratic lawmakers objected to the bill, in part because they argued that it would make it difficult for religious groups to speak out against homosexuality.

The committee passed a House of Delegates version of the bill and the Senate companion bill. Both now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.