Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Meaning of "Further" and a $3 Billion Science Program

Patient advocate Don Reed has pulled together a lengthy piece on a proposed overhaul of the California stem cell agency, concluding that that the $3 billion enterprise does not need to be fixed.

Reed said CIRM is doing “a terrific job.” Writing on his blog, stemcellbattles.com, he said,
“Why should major changes be imposed on such an outstanding program?”
Reed wrote yesterday about the recommendations of the Little Hoover Commission, the state's good government agency, and a meeting earlier this month of the CIRM directors' Legislative Subcommittee.

The heart of Reed's article deals with whether a vote of the people is required on five Hoover recommendations, including trimming the size of the board from 29 to 15 and reducing the powers of the chairman, who has responsibilities that overlap with the president. Both the size of the board and the dual executive situation have created difficulties for CIRM.

Proposition 71, which created the agency nearly five years ago, says the legislature can make changes in CIRM only if they “further” the purposes of the act. Otherwise, a vote of the people is needed to alter the ballot initiative.

That's where the issue hangs. What does further mean? CIRM's lawyers, in an opinion sought by Chairman Robert Klein, have opined that five of the Hoover recommendations require a vote of the people. The Hoover Commission says it is an open question. And as Reed points out in his piece, we told the CIRM Legislative Subcommittee that other, equally capable attorneys could find that the recommendations in question could be legally enacted by state lawmakers.

Reed, an unabashed supporter of CIRM, explores the issue in some detail and notes that it will come before the full board in August. An interim report from the Legislative Subcommittee is scheduled for Thursday of this week. Sphere: Related Content

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