This year's measure is SB343 by Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, and is now before the Senate Health Committee, which she chairs. (Alquist is at left with a friend who is now in the White House.)A somewhat different version of the bill was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year after it was opposed by the California stem cell agency. However, last year's legislation, SB1565, won approval of both houses by enormous margins, 37-1 in the Senate and 64-7 in the Assembly.
Enormous margins are required to enact any legislation affecting CIRM because Prop. 71 specified that 70 percent approval of both houses is necessary to enact even the tiniest changes in the law, such as removing the requirement that the chair of the agency is responsible for the CIRM annual report. The unprecedented, super, supermajority requirement does not exist for any other California legislation, including enactment of a budget or imposition of taxes.
Alquist's bill has been changed somewhat from SB1565 to permit a waiver of the affordability requirement in some unusual cases. One of CIRM's objections last year was that SB1565 was inflexible.
The CIRM directors' Legislative Subcommittee will consider its position on SB343 at a meeting March 31. Teleconference locations where the public can participate include San Francisco (two sites), Healdsburg, Washington, D.C., Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Calistoga, Elk Grove and La Jolla. Specific addresses can be found on the agenda.
Also up for consideration on March 31 is SB471 by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles. The measure states that all education policy makers in the state, including those involved with kindergarten through the 12th grade, should collaborate with CIRM to advance its educational initiatives. Those include an upcoming CIRM program on stem cell science and regenerative medicine.
Alquist's bill has been referred to her Health Committee. Romero's has not yet been assigned to a committee for hearing.