Stem Cell Debate Focuses on States

Stem Cell Debate Focuses on States

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Conference Call: Making broadband a key part of states' economy recovery

WHAT: A national conference call to discuss how states can help create equality amongst the technological haves and have-nots.  Read our Monday Dispatch to learn more about making broadband a key part of states' economy recovery.

Friday, March 20, 2009 at 1:00pm EST.


S. Derek Turner -- Research Director, Free Press;
Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles -- Washington State Senator;
Betty Buckley -- Executive Director of the Communities Connect Network;
Julie Schwartz -- Broadband, Technology and Economic Development Policy Specialist for the Progressive States Network.

Please RSVP online to receive dial-in information for the call and post-call updates and resources.


By: ADam thompson

Stem Cell Debate Focuses on States

Opponents of stem cell research are shifting their focus to state houses after President Obama lifted Bush administration restrictions on federal financing for human embryonic stem cell research. The Georgia Senate recently passed a ban on therapeutic cloning and the creation of embryos for any purpose other than procreation.  The Mississippi House passed a bill to prohibit the University of Mississippi from using state funds "for research that kills or destroys an existing human embryo."  And, as the New York Times reports, some states are considering bills that would define an embryo as a person.

Regarding the shift to states, a senior fellow for the conservative Family Research Council said to the Times, "I don't know that we'll have a very big voice" on the federal level.  "The states tend to be a little more fluid."

President Obama's action will allow federal financing of research on existing and yet-to-be created stem cell lines, so long as federal money is not used in the creation or destruction of human embryonic stem cells.  As the New York Times reports, since 1996 Congress's Dickey-Wicker amendment has banned the use of federal tax dollars to create human embryos or for research in which embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury.  The Bush Administration policy had allowed tax dollars for research on a small number of already-created stem cell lines.  President Obama's rule will greatly expand the availability of taxpayer supported stem cell research.  Researchers have relied on private and state sources of funds to create new stem cell lines.  Whether or not Congress overturns the Dickey-Wicker ban is uncertain, but it will likely generate a heated debate.

Some states are considering outright bans on embryonic stem cell research, such as Oklahoma where the House passed a bill that would make the research illegal, as Reuters reports.  A Texas bill would ban the use of state funds for stem cell research, and Arizona and Louisiana have laws severely limiting stem cell research.

The Georgia bill, which is less restrictive than some of these other state bans, is still problematic to many in the business, research, and health communities.  According to the Times, Georgia has worked in recent years to develop a fertile biotechnology business environment and a trade group sees Senate passage as a barrier to efforts to recruit out of state businesses.  Researchers, patient groups and policymakers support the research because many believe stem cell research holds the key to treating Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injuries, and other chronic illnesses.

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Promoting Municipal Financing for Solar Power Investments

As concerns about reliance on foreign energy resources increase and we try to combat climate change by reducing our emissions and expanding renewable energy use, there has been an increase in talk about public financing of clean energy improvements. A number of states, such as Colorado, already enable public financing for clean energy, including installation of solar power, and even more states, like ArizonaTexasVirginia, and Washington have introduced similar legislation.

One of the greatest obstacles for property owners in installing solar power is the large up-front investment. For an average sized home the cost of installing a solar power system is about $48,000, but the price tag can be much higher for larger homes. Although over the long term property owners may recoup installation cost through reduced utility bills, the up-front cost is still daunting, especially for those with not a lot of discretionary income. While individuals could explore private financing opportunities for such projects  property owners often choose to forgo such assistance, because if they move, they will still be responsible for financing the solar power system although not reaping any of the benefits.  

In an attempt to mitigate the up-front monetary barriers and lessen the long-term personal financial burden associated with making clean energy improvements, some states are passing or changing laws to ensure municipalities can create municipal financing programs for clean energy.  Under municipal financing, municipalities loan property owners money to help with the initial cost of the improvements.  The benefits of municipal financing compared to private financing are two-fold.  First, any property owner, regardless of their credit level, is able to receive a loan, and second loan repayment is tied to the property, not the individual. This means that if a property owner invests in a solar power system and then moves they will not have to cover the cost of the upgrade despite no longer receiving the the financial benefits derived from the associated energy savings.  Further, municipal financing programs can potentially, especially if they include both clean energy projects and energy-efficiency retrofits, facilitate job creation.

While there are are critics who believe that municipal financing programs promote energy generation that the market might otherwise not support, states and localities have considerations beyond money, such as helping ensure our nation takes the necessary steps to combat climate change. 



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Research Roundup

The Housing Crash Recession and the Case for a Third Stimulus - To counter spiraling unemployment and the turmoil in the housing and stock markets, the CPER paper suggests an additional stimulus package, advocates for housing policy based on targeted stabilization of house prices in non-bubble and deflated markets, and the necessary correction of the dollar.

Americans at Risk: One in Three Uninsured - Families USA highlights the growing epidemic of uninsurance in America, with one out of three people under age 65 going without health insurance for some or all of 2007-2008 - a staggering 86.7 million Americans.  The report includes individual state reports and Families is planning a series of public releases in states across the country.

The Economics of Immigration Reform — This IPC Fact Check highlights that moving undocumented immigrants out of the underground economy through legalization would increase tax revenue and also raise American workers' wages and working conditions by putting all workers on equal footing, and eliminating unscrupulous employers' ability to unfairly compete and undermine workers' wages.

Report on Election Auditing - A comprehensive report on best practices for election audits has been released by the League of Women Voters.

Lessons Learned From the 2008 Elections - Common Cause presented testimony cataloging the most serious problems encountered in the 2008 elections and how to respond to the challenges that voters and election administrators faced.

Please email us leads on good research at


Stem Cell Debate Focuses on States

Office of the Presidency - Executive Order: Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells
Progressive States Network - Economic Strategies for Innovation and Job Growth
Center for American Progress - A Life Sciences Crucible: Stem Cell Research and Innovation Done Responsibly and Ethically

Promoting Municipal Financing for Solar Power Investments

New York Times- Harnessing the Sun, With Help From Cities

Merrian C. Fuller, Stephen Compagni Portis, and Daniel M. Kammen- Toward a Low-Carbon Economy: Municipal Financing for Energy Efficiency and Solar Power
Myers Reece, Renewed Energy in Push for Solar Power


The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Interim Executive Director
Caroline Fan, Immigration and Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Julie Schwartz, Broadband and Economic Development Policy Specialist
Christian Smith-Socaris, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Health Care Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Executive Administrator and Outreach Associate
Austin Guest, Communications Specialist
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Coordinator

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