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Filibuster May Roil Last Day Of Session

The constitutional amendment will not need further action by the Senate to pass, but scores of other proposals do, and they could be threatened by a filibuster on the stem cell research measure.

Opponents object to the research because it involves the destruction of a viable human embryo, which they argue is the moral equivalent of abortion. Supporters argue that the research, which President Bush has limited on the federal level, holds great promise for Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and many other debilitating conditions.

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Full Report

Sen. Paula C. Hollinger (D-Baltimore County), the bill's chief Senate sponsor, said that she is not optimistic that she can secure the three-fifths vote required to cut off debate today -- but that she has not given up hope.

"The bottom line is, all of us who have lived through the last day of a session know that things can change at the last minute," Hollinger said.

She said she is confident that a majority of senators are willing to vote for the bill if a filibuster can be broken.

Miller said in an interview last week that he will consider allowing debate of the stem cell bill during lulls in the chamber's work on other legislation "so we can demonstrate to the public how mean and ugly one of these debates can be."

The House version of the bill, which passed last month, calls for offering $23 million a year to researchers starting in 2007. The Senate version does not specify a figure.

Among the other high-profile measures to be voted on in the House are a pair of bills that Ehrlich vetoed Friday, both of which aim to curb his power.

The Senate on Saturday voted to override the governor on both bills. One places restrictions on his appointments to the State Board of Elections. The other prohibits the governor from stating Maryland's posture on international trade deals before consulting the General Assembly.

One strictly political matter that could be addressed today is a last-minute proposal to move the state's primary from September to June.

Democratic supporters of the proposal have argued that it would give the party's gubernatorial candidate more time to regroup for the November general election. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan are gearing up to seek the Democratic nomination to run against Ehrlich in 2006.

Several potential congressional candidates also favor the date change, particularly with the retirement of U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) leaving an open seat in the 2006 election.

The Senate passed the proposal Saturday night on a vote that fell largely along party lines. Busch said there has been resistance to the idea in the House, particularly from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery), who had yet to schedule a vote on the bill.

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