Confirmation of UM curator might be blocked
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Confirmation of UM curator might be blocked

Date: January 16, 2007
By: Tina Marie Macias
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The legislature's leading opponent of stem-cell research has vowed to block the confirmation of a UM System Board of Curators' member, because the curator supports early stem-cell research.

Warren Erdman's nomination comes before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee Wednesday morning. On the eve of the committee meeting, Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit, renewed his intention to fight the nomination.

Bartle refused to talk in detail about his opposition.  In an interview with the Kansas City Star last week, Bartle said he opposes Erdman because Erdman would be put in a position where he would have have some control over how MU uses public funds.

Erdman, who could not be reached for comment, is a leading voice for life sciences research in Kansas City and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Erdman was also a staff member of former-governor John Ashcroft and former-Governor Kit Bond.

If Erdman is approved by the committee, the committee chairman said the nomination would go before the full Senate on Thursday.  There, Bartle said he will object Erdman's appointment. He will not attend the committee meeting.

Gov. Matt Blunt appointed Erdman to the UM Board of Curators on Dec. 29.  Because Erdman was named when the legislature was not in session, his appoint took effect immediately.  Continuation on the board, however, is subject to Senate confirmation.

Supporters of Erdman said he should have no problem being approved by the committee and Senate. Erdman's own senator, Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, said none of the senators she has spoken to have been against Erdman. She said the only opposition she has heard is from Bartle.

"(Erdman) is committed to higher education. He will make sure we keep tuition costs down," Justus said. "He's going o be a strong voice."

Justus added that because the voters struck down Proposition 2 and early stem-cell research in November, that there should be no reason that Erdman's position on stem cell research should be a problem.

Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee Chairman Mike Gibbons, R-St. Louis County, also praised Erdman.  "I've known him my entire adult life," the St. Louis County Republican said. "I know him to be a man of ability and integrity."

Gibbons said the two had attended Westminster College together.