Human Exceptionalism

Blame Amendment 2: MO Government Can’t Be Forced to Fund Life Science Research

I won’t rehash the Amendment 2 political fight in Missouri, but to recall that the proponents’ language led to the state refusing to appropriate money for a life science trust fund because the money could be spent on ESCR or human cloning. Here’s the history: A 2 created a state constitutional right to conduct human cloning research.  But the authors were greedy and didn’t stop with that: They also prohibited the state from discriminating against one area of  research in public funding, if an associated area was funded.  That meant if the state funded, say adult stem cell research, it would also have to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Precisely because of this clause, subsequent to passage of Amendment 2, the legislature refused to fully fund a life science research trust fund–the very kind of restriction that opponents of Amendment 2 had warned would happen.  Indeed, I made that point repeatedly during the campaign, and later, here at SHS, when the funding was actually restricted.

The refusal to fund led to a lawsuit, as these things almost always do.  First, a trial court sided with the state.  Now a court of appeals has as well.  Here’s the core of the actual ruling (citations omitted):

…while the provision specifying that money must be transferred into the Fund may appear mandatory and unqualified, the statutory provisions specifying the use or disbursement of monies from the Fund makes clear that such disbursements are subject to the legislature’s appropriations power.  The statutory provision governing the use of monies contained in the Fund states that “[a]ll moneys that are appropriated by the general assembly from the life sciences research trust fund shall be appropriated to the life sciences research board” for specified purposes. § 196.1109 (emphasis added). Section 196.1109 goes on to specify the maximum percentage “of the moneys appropriated” that may be spent on construction of physical facilities, and the percentages that must be “appropriated” “to build research capacity,” “to promote life science technology transfer and technology commercialization,” and for “research of tobacco-related illnesses.” Other references throughout §§ 196.1100-196.1130 make clear that the General Assembly plainly contemplated that no monies would actually be expended from the Fund without the intervention of the appropriations process…

The authors of Amendment 2 overreached by trying to both create a right to clone and a scheme to garner state money for doing so.  They are to blame for the funding restrictions that resulted, not the legislator opponents of cloning and ESCR, many of whom warned against this very outcome.

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