Friday, February 26, 2016

Childhood Cancer Research Measure Passes First of Many Votes

A proposed amendment to the State Constitution setting aside funds for childhood cancer research passed the House Rules Committee February 17, by a vote of 8-2. The funds would come from Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, or TSET, earnings. 

House Joint Resolution 1045, if approved by the state Legislature and a vote of the people, would require the TSET board to set aside annually at least $1 million for pediatric cancer research. 

An amendment by state Rep. Jason Nelson, author of HJR 1045, increasing the set-aside from five percent to the greater of $1 million or 10 percent of what the board already grants for medical research was adopted unanimously.

Nelson said it was necessary to increase the amount of funds to ensure minimum adequate funding will be available to support the level of research anticipated.

“I increased the amount of money that will be made available after visiting with the chairman of the leading childhood cancer research organization in North America,” Nelson said. “It was clear that five percent of the current research funding level supported by TSET would not be enough to fund a project capable of the kind of high level research expected. I was told that a minimum investment of $1 million would be necessary. That happens to be about 10 percent of the earnings set aside by TSET last year for medical research.”

Nelson added a provision addressing a concern raised by TSET that the new set-aside could impact its existing funding commitments and struck language that would have allowed funds to be spent on research to improve access and continuity of educational services for children receiving cancer treatment. Nelson said the TSET board is already investing a significant amount of money on education related initiatives. He said focusing the limited funds on medical research made more sense.

The resolution must be approved by the House of Representatives in the next two weeks. 

House Joint Resolution 1045 was filed by Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, in January.

Related: Childhood Cancer Research Funding Amendment Proposed

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