In the past, CIRM directors have opposed all legislation that would affect it. While measures have passed both houses with more than 70 percent votes, the governor vetoed them at the behest of the agency.
However, last week the directors' Legislative Subcommittee decided to ask that legislation by state Sen. Elaine Kontominas Alquist, D-San Jose, be sent to interim study. The move is politically adept. It serves the same purpose as outright opposition. If the agency is successful in sending the bill to interim study, it effectively kills the bill for the next year or so but CIRM does not appear to be stone-walling legislative and other critics. The move instead would put CIRM in the public position of appearing to be listening carefully to those who are raising questions.
The agency's new tactics came to light in response to a question last week that we posed to Don Gibbons, chief communications officer for CIRM, concerning what action the subcommittee had taken.
He said the directors subcommittee acknowledged CIRM is “not perfect.”
“Moving the bill to interim study not only involves allowing CIRM to educate the legislature on our progress but also allows the committee chair to call a hearing after the legislature adjourns to provide substantive oversight to review the progress that CIRM has made on all the issues raised by the Little Hoover Commission and the Controller’s Financial Accountability Committee and verify the transparency we all support.”Alquist's bill, SB1064, is aimed at ensuring affordable access to therapies financed with taxpayer funds and providing for more accountability and openness from CIRM.
Gibbons also said the directors subcommittee voted to seek further study of an umbilical cord blood banking bill that would provide birth certificate fees to CIRM for that purpose.
The full text of Gibbons' statement can be found in the item below.