Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, the leading proponent for stem cell research, offered an amendment to an appropriations bill that gives money to the Department of Economic Development, among other departments. His amendment would have removed language from the bill that limits life sciences research funding to only supporting animal and plant research.
"We're not supposed to legislate appropriations, but we do it all the time," Graham said. "The less language, the better." Traditionally, appropriation bills only include the money amount that goes to a department, without restrictions, so the bills are open to interpretation.
Removing limiting language would have opened up funding to go toward any type of life sciences research -- including embryonic stem cell research. Graham, a former House Education Appropriations chairman, said he understands the work put into appropriations bills and was not trying to change the bill drastically. He said he only open up opportunity for more research.
"I didn't hear when we said the Senate's against saving human lives," Graham said.
Graham also referred to the passage of Amendment 2 last November, which legalizes stem cell research, and said the Senate is ignoring Missourians' wishes. He added that removing the restrictive language now will give power for future legislators to be unlimited in finding ways to spend life sciences appropriations.
"What we're doing by leaving this (restrictive) language is punting to the Senate this year who will punt to another Senate the next year," he said. "This (stem cell research) is something I expect the Senate to grapple with."
Sen. Chris Koster, R-Harrisonville, told Graham that he would like for more research that will cure disease to be conducted in Missouri, so that it will not be done in other countries without ethics codes.
"We have a moral virtual that we pursue," he said. "We do have religious values that we lay over this research and we are ready to conduct this research in a moral way that we're not finding by pushing this into South Korea."
However, Koster still voted against Graham's amendment.
"I acknowledge that in my heart I want it to happen quickly, but I have to step back and acknowledge that we're part of a big group (the Senate) and we have to wait for this to take time," Koster said.
He added that he believes Graham, who is disabled, will one day be able to walk with the help of this research, but it will take a while.
"If I move to California or New York," Graham said in response to Koster.
The Senate, in a vote of 23-10 voted against Graham's amendment and quickly moved to pass the appropriations bill, which passed unanimously.