With MPR's Alex Friedrich:
The husband of Minnesota Senate President Michelle Fischbach is asking his organization's constituents to pressure legislators to reinstate one or more pro-life measures stripped by Gov. Mark Dayton as a condition of the budgetary framework agreement reached last week.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a group opposed to legalized abortion, sent out an action alert urging its members to contact lawmakers about the budget bill. Scott Fischbach is the executive director of the organization. The group issued an e-mail blast to thousands of supporters criticizing the budget deal and urging supporters to reinstate the cloning ban in the Higher Education bill.
Allowing the budget deal to go forward, the alert states, "means that an existing prohibition on taxpayer funding of human cloning would not continue, and for the first time since Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers would lose an existing pro-life state policy. ... In 2009, pro-lifers across the state worked tirelessly and were successful in implementing a two-year ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning. This year, if the Legislature doesn't reauthorize the ban, taxpayers will be forced to pay for cloning."
It also warned that "protecting pain-capable unborn children" and ending taxpayer funding of abortion were off the table.
MCCL's criticism of the GOP controlled Legislature is interesting since many Republican members are in line with the organization's efforts to put added restrictions on legalized abortion. But it's also intriguing since Fischbach is married to Senate President Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville). Sen. Fischbach chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee and is chief author of the Senate's Higher Education budget bill.
So would Scott Fischbach scuttle a deal that his wife, as a GOP leader, would normally have to back?
"We just want to hang on to the current law that we have," he said. "We want to urge (legislators) to keep the ban on taxpayer-funded cloning."
And what does Michelle Fischbach have to say about this? Does she support him? And would she still introduce the new higher-education bill - stripped of abortion and cloning policy -- despite MCCL's effort against it?
The MCCL chief wouldn't say, when reached by cell phone.
"You'll have to ask her," he said. "We don't come home at night and start talking at this bill and that bill. She does her thing and I do mine. "
Dayton stripped, among others, the anti-cloning and taxpayer-funding-of-abortions elements from the budgeting bill, calling them policy issues that did not belong in a financial bill. His plea to remove all policy provisions from the legislation was a major factor in reaching a budget deal last week.
But Scott Fischbach said that's just "spin." Those elements do indeed involve taxpayer dollars and so belong in a budget bill.
Yet when reminded that his wife is a Republican leader, he said, "No ... she was not part of that negotiation (for a framework agreement) ... at all."
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo), he said, was responsible for taking the pro-life elements off the table.
"She agreed with the governor to get rid of all the social issues," he said.
And a lot of Republicans, he said, "don't like this plan."
Dayton and lawmakers are working out the final details of the budget. The governor is expected to call a special session once the two sides agree to the wording in all nine budget bills.
Michelle Fischbach was in caucus and not immediately available to comment.
(Chris Van Guilder, communications specialist for the Senate Republican caucus, said he would relay a message.)
I support the organizations that value life after birth and the responsibility to provide safety, education, healthcare, and a safety net for those vulnerable and disabled folks.
The right wing base never seems to notice Republicans haven't done much about Roe v Wade (with possible exception of this last year) for decades. Republicans would be foolish to kill their cash cow and actually put these social restrictions in place. As long as their base is angry about these social issues, they have a block of free single issues voters behind them and don't have a block of independent voters angry at them for their big government intrusion into private lives.
These are exactly the underhanded, undermining tactics that discredits the governing of a state that legislators were elected to do. What is human cloning language doing as a part of an education bill? And that the pressure is applied by the spouse of the committee chair and author of the bill is completely unethical and a total conflict of interest.
Rael is right on. This is all about money. These issues bring so much money to MCCL and other groups like them. They will never want to see Roe v. Wade go away because it will completely destroy their funding, and the reason for their existence.
Why is this stuff being put in a bill about budgets. If every body in the state demanded their far out personal beliefs be a part of the budget they would be working on it forever. THE BUDGET is supposed to be about the fiscal policy of this state not about a religious belief. If the stupid republicans would take their religion to church where it belongs this country would certainly run a lot better. Do you see Wicans demanding that they have something in the bill, Do you see Asians demanding they have something in the bill IT IS A FISCAL MATTER NOT A PERSONAL OR RELIGIOUS ONE. GROW UP REPUBLICANS.
I thought that it was language about stem-cell research that Dayton wanted removed, not human cloning. I would be very surprised if the U of M is doing human cloning research.
Does anybody know for sure what the policy item was?
Marge -- While I appreciate your carefully nuanced position, allow me to point out that taxpayer funding of human cloning is directed to the University of Minnesota, an educational institution. Therefore, this legislation was rightly included in the Higher Ed funding bill. It is not a personal or religious issue, but a matter of use of taxpayer funds. The last time I checked, people who attend church were still taxpayers and citizens with the right to engage in public policy. You may not agree with their positions, but telling them to confine their involvements within the walls of a church is like telling businesswomen or health care providers to not participate in public debate. A republic is operated by the people -- even those with strongly held beliefs with which you disagree. Your arguments would be more effective if you addressed the topic of the debate, rather than resorting to name-calling and shame.
This story should help explain where the U of M stands on the issue:
Why is the ban on tax-payer funded human cloning in the Higher Ed budget bill? 1. It's about spending tax dollars, making it a budget item. 2. Where would such cloning occur? Try the U of M, making it a Higher Ed item.
Re a conflict of interest: 1. There is no evidence and it was denied explicitly. 2. You're discounting the possibility Sen. Fischbach happens to agree with her husband.
As to whether the MCCL is in it for the money, I suppose it's possible you're projecting a cynical world view, but more likely it's bleating out of ignorance. Every person from MCCL with whom I have come in contact would be delighted to have to disband because an authentic Culture of Life has been established.
Finally, in addition to the pre-born, the MCCL also has many activities to assist other vulnerable members of society, including at-risk mothers, infants, the disabled, and the elderly.
Jamie, the language at issue prohibits the creation of new human organisms (at their earliest stages of development) by the cloning process of somatic cell nuclear transfer. That is, it prohibits human cloning. This is related to stem cell research insofar as some scientists want to create new human embryos by cloning in order to derive embryonic stem cells (killing the embryo). That is not currently happening in Minnesota, so nothing would be affected, but the U of M strongly opposes the human cloning ban because it may want to pursue it in the future.