Topeka — A proposed one-year ban on state funding of human cloning research was dropped Wednesday in favor of a study of cloning issues as legislators resolved the last budget issues before them.
The House had included the anti-cloning provision in its version of a bill needed to complete the state's $12 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Senators rejected a similar proposal.
With the promise that legislative leaders would appoint a committee to study cloning issues this summer and fall, supporters of the funding ban relented, allowing budget negotiators to close a deal.
The compromise budget legislation was worth about $63 million, and the Senate approved it 24-12. The House passed the measure 65-49, sending it to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and allowing lawmakers to finish their work on the session's 93rd day.
The budget bill had given legislators who view embryonic stem cell research as human cloning an opportunity to force a debate over exactly what constitutes cloning. They received support from abortion opponents, including Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group.
"I am glad that we're going to continue keeping this issue at the forefront," said Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, who supported the funding ban.
But legislators also felt pressure from advocates for medical research who argued adopting too broad a definition of cloning will stall or prevent work on disease cures.
"I'm just hopeful that we don't do anything to discourage science research from moving forward," Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said during a news conference.
Universally, legislators say they oppose human cloning, but there's a robust debate between abortion opponents and medical researchers as to what constitutes cloning.