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State Senator grows teary about multiple sclerosis

State Sen. Noreen Evans was overcome with emotion Monday as she introduced a resolution to declare this week Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

Noreen Evans speechThe debilitating neurological disease has hit close to home for Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who said four close family members have struggled with it. Her floor speech started out shaky, grew steadier for a time, and then ended in tears as she spoke of how the disease often strikes people in the prime of their lives. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and state Sen. Holly Mitchell moved to comfort her as she finished; the Senate passed her resolution 31-0. The California Channel has video of her speech here – it starts at about 38 minutes and 45 seconds – but I’m having trouble embedding it.

Evans – a mother of three who announced in August that she’ll return to her law practice rather than seek a second Senate term this year – wouldn’t discuss her family’s specific situation later Monday afternoon except to say “it is something that has affected my family very deeply.” She did say one relative who had struggled with the disease passed away last year.

“I always like to try to find to turn a negative into a positive, and if I can turn this into a way of helping other people understand… then that’s something I’d like to do,” she said, adding public attention can help lead to more resources and support for research toward treatment, from reversing the disease’s effects to an overall cure. “There are a lot of people in our communities who struggle with this disease and nobody ever knows about it.”

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What they said about Obama’s stem-cell policy

President Barack Obama on Monday lifted the eight-year-old ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — who championed Proposition 71 of 2004, which devoted $3 billion to stem cell research and created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — had this to say about the President’s action:

“President Obama’s executive order is a huge win for the millions of people who suffer from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and many other illnesses. Californians were the first in the nation to support and fund embryonic stem cell research and we are big believers in the power of this revolutionary science to not only improve but to save lives. Because of the federal ban, Californians world-renown research facilities have had to have separate areas for the federally-funded and the non-federally funded programs, causing duplicative efforts. I applaud President Obama for removing this barrier which allows California to maximize critical research funding so we can continue to lead the world in stem cell research.”

More on this from other elected officials, after the jump…
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