Oklahoma Senate Sustains Stem Cell Veto

Thursday, April 23rd 2009, 10:50 am
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY - An attempt to override Gov. Brad Henry's veto of embryonic stem cell ban failed in the Oklahoma Senate. The Oklahoma House voted to override Henry's veto of the bill.

Henry vetoed the bill late Wednesday saying it would unjustly criminalize scientists and threatens research that could save lives.

More on News9.com: Governor Henry Vetoes Stem Cell Bill

A two-thirds majority was needed in both the House and the Senate to override the veto.

House members mustered that majority Thursday, voting 68-26 to override. The fight failed in the Senate, where 32 votes were needed to nullify the veto.

"Today, the House-in the light of day-cast a bipartisan vote to override a veto of legislation that will ban the killing of human embryos," said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. "I hope our Senate colleagues quickly do the same so this important bill becomes law."

Backers of the bill have cast it as a measure to protect life in the form of embryonic stem cells.

Henry says supporters of the measure have laced their arguments with misinformation. He says the bill has nothing to do with protecting life, and would hinder potentially life-saving medical research.

Rep. Mike Reynolds, the Oklahoma City Republican who introduced the bill, says that if people value money more than human life, they should find another state or country to live in.

Henry released a statement regarding the Senate's vote.

"I want to thank the legislators, particularly members of the Senate, who took the time to educate themselves, cut through the misinformation and cast a vote in favor of life-saving scientific research that can bring hope to thousands of Oklahomans suffering from debilitating diseases," Gov. Henry said.

"In the face of unjust criticism and untrue assertions about this bill, these legislators took a principled stand and did the right thing for their state. I also appreciate the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Tulsa Metro Chamber and all of the health care advocates for working so hard to educate people about what this bill really did and the dire consequences that would have resulted had it been enacted into law. They were also unjustly and unfairly criticized for speaking out on this issue, and they deserve praise."

Two Republicans were among the 19 voting to sustain the veto. Senate supporters of the ban say they will continue to try and get the additional votes they need. There is no limit on the number of times they can attempt an override and can do so through the end of two-year legislative cycle in May 2010.