Saturday, June 10, 2006

Text of the Klein-Ortiz-SB401 Letter

Here is the letter signed by Robert Klein concerning Deborah Ortiz and SB401. It was supplied by a representative of the group.

AMERICANS FOR STEM CELL
THERAPIES AND CURES


550 CALIFORNIA AVENUE • PALO ALTO, CA 94036
PHONE: (650) 812-9304 • FAX: (650) 833-0105

June 5, 2006

Dear Stem Cell Advocate,

As a State Senator, Deborah Ortiz has been an ongoing threat to Proposition
71, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), and stem cell research
in its entirety. In a stream of legislative acts, Senate Bill 18, Senate Constitutional
Amendment 13 and most recently Senate Bill 401, the Senator has attempted to impose
crippling restrictions on the research she claims to champion. Rather than allowing the
CIRM time to develop policy and standards, Senator Ortiz attempted to impose her own
legislative controls on the new agency barely one month after its approval by the voters. Her
policies, if implemented, would be disastrous for the new stem cell research program.

SB 401 will stunt progress in stem cell research.

Despite the fact that the Governor vetoed SB 18 (which in its original form would have
mandated a three year delay of promising forms of stem cell research), and that SCA 13 died
quietly as it became more fully understood, Ortiz’ anti-research crusade has continued in the
form of Senate Bill 401.

SB 401 was originally a bill which had nothing to do with stem cell research. Its subject was
medical advertising. In that guise it passed through several Senate hearings. Then the
contents were removed, and replaced with a completely different bill, very similar to the
research-restrictive SCA-13. This “gut and amend” procedure shoved the bill through
without full hearings, denying due process.

SB 401 adds new layers of bureaucracy and unfunded costs. Example: the Ortiz bill would
require the Attorney General’s office to approve each individual financial arrangement
between state and researcher. Not only is this new expense unfunded, but what is to prevent
an Attorney General who opposes the research from delaying it? Furthermore, the Attorney
General’s office does not have this expertise and the University of California system has
proven the value of hiring private attorneys with scientific expertise who can effectively
compete in negotiations with private sector attorneys (to actually protect and advance the
state’s interest).

Still another threat in SB 401 is the often vague and confusing language, offering possible
grounds for new lawsuits and accompanying delays in research. SB 401 offers a potential for
still more unnecessary legal challenges-- and accompanying delays-- to virtually any research
project imaginable.


Above all, SB 401 ignores the single most important element in stem cell research: the
patients and their families. As Nancy Reagan said, “We have already waited too long; it is
time to let the research go forward.”

The legislation is untimely and uncalled for.

Ortiz started her attacks on Proposition 71 on December 6th and 7th, 2004; on the very day
the National Academies of Science convened a two-day national taskforce workshop with
the Proposition 71 sponsors, to advance their mutual efforts to develop a MODEL FOR
MEDICAL AND ETHICAL STANDARDS. Senator Ortiz ignored these efforts and
claimed that the Proposition 71 sponsors were not interested in high medical and ethical
standards. She advanced her attacks in press coverage at the expense of the National
Academies of Science and Proposition 71 sponsors’ committed efforts. By denying the new
agency time to develop regulatory best practices, the Ortiz legislation defies the will of the
California electorate. The text of the initiative states clearly that CIRM was supposed to be
legislatively protected for 3 years. As stated within the text of the initiative, “Sec. 8.
Amendments. The statutory provisions… may be amended… by a bill introduced and
passed no earlier than the third full calendar year following adoption …”

CIRM has taken positive steps to ensure accountability.

Senator Don Perata, Senator Joe Dunn, Senator Jackie Speier and Senator Debra
Bowen led a highly constructive and responsible Senate effort to improve Proposition 71 in
a joint venture with the leadership of the Board and staff of CIRM. In contrast, Ortiz played
a “grandstanding” role, constantly undermining and attacking the good faith efforts of the
CIRM and the Proposition 71 sponsors. In areas such as patient protection, ethical
standards, public oversight and more, the CIRM has adopted the most stringent
“standards and practices” regulations in the nation, with the approval of Senators
Perata, Dunn, Speier and Bowen. Nothing, unfortunately, satisfies Senator Ortiz. Case in
point: Senator Ortiz requested a 6 month full performance audit of CIRM and its practices.
This is an expensive and serious government operation, done in addition to CIRM’s
completed independent audit: which, by the terms of Proposition 71, already must be
reviewed in a public hearing by the Independent Financial Oversight Committee chaired by
the State Controller and with representation of the State Treasurer, the President Pro
Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly, and the CIRM. Only three weeks
after demanding the performance audit, without waiting for its results, Senator Ortiz went
ahead with SB 401, imposing restrictive “solutions” to a problem not shown to exist.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is already the gold standard in public
accountability and transparency, having held nearly 70 public meetings and numerous
conferences to address issues of intellectual property, patient privacy and safety, scientific
planning, and more. The CIRM’s medical and ethical standards in many cases are more
stringent than those of the National Institutes of Health’s requirements, as well as
qualitatively exceeding the recommendations of the National Academies of Science.

Strange bedfellows: Ortiz and “the far right”.


Ortiz’s legislature has been publicly praised by the enemies of stem cell research. For
example, in a March 30th, 2006, report from Lifenews.com, an influential right-to-life group
bitterly opposed to embryonic stem cell research:

“State Sen. Deborah Ortiz, a Democrat who has been leading efforts in the legislature to get more
state oversight on CIRM, says she plans legislation to put on the ballot a measure that require(s) grant
recipients to share half their proceeds with the state. “For pro-life advocates who didn’t want Proposition 71,
the battles are a positive development because it means any research…will only be postponed.”
SB 401’s co-author is conservative George Runner, who has been described as “virulently
anti-embryonic”1 stem cell research.

Stem cell research advocates oppose the Ortiz legislation.

Not one patient advocacy organization has endorsed Senator Ortiz’s cripplingly anti-
research legislation. On the contrary, some of embryonic stem cell research’s biggest
patient-advocate supporters have come out against SB 401: The Coalition for the
Advancement of Medical Research - a 100-group organization, the Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation, the Alliance for Stem Cell Research, Californians for Cures, the
Christopher Reeve Foundation, Research for Cures-- and every other patient advocacy
organization which has taken a public position.

SB 401 is opposed by California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University
of California, and the University of Southern California. The measure is opposed by the
California Healthcare Institute and major newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times.

For all of these reasons we would hope that you would immediately communicate your
position against this bill to all supporters of Proposition 71.

Sincerely,

Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures

(Proposition 71 Campaign Committee)

Robert N. Klein, Chairman

Dr. Genevieve Ames, Director

Don C. Reed, Secretary


1 “Sen. Ortiz has since teamed up with virulently anti-embryonic stem cell Republican George
Runner (R-Antelope Valley) to propose two new bills and a constitutional amendment..."--Los
Angeles City Beat, March 24, 2005

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