Saturday, May 13, 2006

Big Week Ahead for Legislative Move to Tighten Stem Cell Oversight

Efforts to tighten oversight of the California stem cell agency and ensure that the state benefits from its $6 billion investment come up Wednesday in a key state legislative committee.

If SB401 clears the Assembly Appropriations Committee it goes to the Assembly floor. Then its only other normal legislative stop is the floor of the Senate.

The day before the committee session, CIRM is scheduled to discuss the measure by Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, during its own committee hearing. Presumably that session is aimed at drumming up opposition to the proposal, which the Oversight Committee has already opposed as premature.

The public is not likely to see most of the important action taking place on the bill. Opponents and supporters will be meeting privately with lawmakers to explain their position. Email and letter-writing campaigns undoubtedly are already underway. Both sides will be asking key opinion leaders and behind-the-scenes operators to contact legislators on behalf of their positions.

Part of the backdrop to the maneuvering is Ortiz' campaign for the Democratic nomination for California secretary of state. She is in a tight contest with many undecided voters. Favorable action and publicity on the bill could help her campaign. The campaign will also color the positions of other lawmakers, who may find themselves making decisions on the electoral impact of the measure – not on its merits.

Here are links to the latest version of the bill and the analysis. Here is a link to more on the bill from the California Stem Cell Report. Sphere: Related Content

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