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Ehrlich speaking in code?

One aspect of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s State of the State speech today generated alarm among supporters of embryonic stem cell research.

The Republican governor has proposed spending $20 million next year on stem cell research but has said he will leave it to a technology corporation to determine whether the money should be spend on embryonic work, which some Republicans oppose on moral grounds, or less controversial work on adult stem cells.

In his address, Ehrlich said dollars would be steered to "promising projects with the greatest opportunity for therapeutic breakthroughs." Work on adult stem cells is further along than embryonic, though many scientists believe embryonic holds greater promise.

House Majority Leader Kumar Barve said he believes Ehrlich was using "code" for saying he's going to support only adult stem cell.

"That's why we need legally binding language as to how this would be spent," said Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D-Baltimore), who is sponsoring the stem cell bill. "That's called legislation. It's not rhetoric in a speech, or one position one day and another one the next."

An Ehrlich aide said "there were no code words," adding that the governor remains open to embryonic research if that is what scientists recommend.

By John Wagner  |  January 26, 2006; 6:33 PM ET
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