Spinal cord bill dead in House and Senate

Rodreick is already planning to reintroduce the bill next year.
Rodreick is already planning to reintroduce the bill next year.
Photo: Tony Nelson for City Pages

It's been a frustrating week for Matthew Rodreick.

Committees in the House and Senate have released their budgets for health and human services programs, and a bill that would fund curative spinal cord injury research in Minnesota is absent from both. Rodreick originally brought the idea for the bill to Senate chief author Jeff Hayden, and has tirelessly lobbied for it over the past few months, even releasing a documentary to draw public support that featured Vikings punter Chris Kluwe spending a day in a wheelchair.

SEE ALSO: COVER: Stalking the Blue Demon Spinal cord bill supporters make final plea to legislators

Rodreick is still urging supporters to send letters to Gov. Mark Dayton this week, but barring a miracle, it's unlikely the bill would be revived this year. "There's a little tiny part of me, a little thimble of hope up on the shelf, that Dayton might do something," says Rodreick. "I guess that's all there is, really."

The story behind the bill was the subject of our Jan. 23 cover, "Stalking the Blue Demon." In 2008, Rodreick's son Gabe broke his neck while body surfing in Costa Rica, rendering him quadriplegic. Rodreick has since dedicated himself to seeing Gabe walk again, and hoped this bill could help bring progressive cure research at the University of Minnesota to human clinical trial.

Hayden introduced the bill in January, and Rodreick was optimistic when it passed the first few committee hurdles. Then he saw the budget cut targets for health and human services.

"That was the beginning of watching the writing on the wall kinda form," he says.

But Rodreick hasn't given up. He's already building a strategy for next year, and planning to meet with Hayden later this spring. He hopes he can use the lessons learned this time around to get the bill passed in 2014.

"This year being the first crack, I think we did pretty well to get as far as we did," he says.

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