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Human-cloning-ban provision likely to produce veto of Human Services finance bill

Both the Minnesota House and Senate have moved to prohibit state support for human cloning this week — most recently in the Senate Human Services finance bill passed Wednesday — despite a clear message from Gov. Mark Dayton’s office that he will veto finance bills that have policy tucked in.

Fear that a human cloning ban could have a “chilling effect” on research and the state’s well-established biomedical industry has prompted University of Minnesota scientists, biobusiness advocates and DFL lawmakers to speak out against the legislation.

A smattering of these representatives held a press event at the Capitol Thursday morning, arguing that a ban on human cloning — more specifically, a medical technique known as “therapeutic cloning” — would be ruinous for Minnesota’s economy and potential for innovation.

“The university will be handicapped,” said. Dr. Meri Firpo, a researcher at University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute.

But Republicans, spurred by the anti-abortion group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, insist that all types of human cloning are unethical. Scott Fischbach, the executive director of MCCL, is Senate President Michelle Fischbach’s husband.

Fischbach and Rep. Bob Dettmer have both authored stand-alone bills that would ban human cloning, and the measures were eventually put in both the House and Senate higher education omnibus bills that passed earlier this week.

Dayton has maintained that he’ll only begin negotiations on omnibus finance bills once the House and Senate present him with unified legislation vetted through conference committees, but he’s offered strong language about the parameters he’ll use when considering the bills.

“I will not sign revenue or expenditure bills that include policies, to which I have not agreed, which I oppose, and which should be passed and presented to me as separate legislation,” Dayton wrote in a letter to GOP leaders on Monday.

Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci has confirmed that the language banning state funding for human cloning included in both higher education omnibus bills is grounds for veto under the governor’s conditions.

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