Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Effort to Shunt SCA13 Fails

The proposed ballot measure to tighten oversight of the California stem cell agency has survived a move to sidetrack it back into a legislative committee. The legislation remains on the Senate floor and could come up for a vote as early as Thursday (June 9).

Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, who has made his legislative bones chewing up energy companies, Wednesday futilely attempted to have the proposal sent to the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, although the bill has already cleared three legislative committee.

CIRM and Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, are at loggerheads over her proposed constitutional amendment. Ortiz supported Prop. 71, which created the stem cell agency, but believes the agency should be more accountable and open and ensure that therapies developed with state funds are available to all. The agency believes her measure, SCA13, would cripple the agency and delay cures that could save lives.

One of the key CIRM arguments holds that SCA13 would endanger the issuance of the $3 billion in bonds to fund research. But the state's bond counsel, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, denies that in a very brief June 7 memo to Ortiz and stem cell chairman Robert Klein.

If you are truly a policy wonk, here are the two salient paragraphs from the memo:

"As drafted, we do not believe the new Section 9(a) (of SCA13) would be an impediment to the issuance of bonds by the State. This is based on the inclusion of the term 'seek to ensure' in the measure, which changes this from a prescriptive rule to a statement of intent or aspiration. We do not believe officials at the ICOC would have a difficulty certifying that they will be seeking the results set out in Section 9(a), although of course we cannot speak for them. We understand the language circulated at the ICOC meeting yesterday (Monday) morning did not include the words 'seek to.' In the absence of those words, we would continue to believe, as stated in a prior Memorandum to (an aide to Ortiz), that such a provision in Article XXXV would be a significant problem for the issuance of bonds.

"Nothing in the proposed Section 9(a) interferes with the ability of the State to issue tax-exempt bonds. As we have stated numerous times in writing and in conversations with you, the final determination of our ability to opine on the tax exemption of any particular issue of State bonds will depend on many factors, including the exact terms of intellectual property conditions which are included with grants or loans made by the CIRM." Sphere: Related Content

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