Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CIRM Legislation Advances in State Senate

The California State Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation aimed at ensuring that the state receives a return on its $3 billion stem cell research investment and that its citizens receive affordable treatments with any state-financed stem cell cures.

The measure, SB771, was sent to the Senate Finance Committee, its last stop before it reaches the Senate floor.

Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, told the committee that her bill merely "keeps the promises" of the Prop. 71 campaign. Sen. George Runner, R-Antelope Valley, co-author of the measure, said it ensures that the campaign was not a "bait-and-switch" effort. Runner also said it was "perplexing and disappointing" to hear opponents of the legislation complain that it would stand in the way of development of cures.

The measure was opposed by CIRM and the biotech industry as represented by the California Healthcare Institute. Their arguments were familiar to those who have read these pages and can be seen in much greater detail in items elsewhere on this Web site than time allowed in today's 15-20 minute hearing.

Kuehl said she was willing to work with CIRM but was not satisfied with its position that the legislation is premature. She the use of the "trust us" argument "is not attractive to me." She also noted that industry sounds as if it has a problem keeping the promises embodied in the Prop. 71 campaign.

Representing CIRM at the hearing was Francisco Prieto, a Sacramento physician and a member of CIRM's Oversight Committee. He reiterated CIRM's position that the legislation was premature and said the agency was making progress in meeting the promises of Prop. 71. Runner indicated that "premature" was not necessarily the appropriate term since the agency has been in place for nearly 2 ½ years.

(For more on the legislation, use the search function in the upper left hand corner of this blog or click on the labels below.) Sphere: Related Content

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