Thursday, July 03, 2008

Kuehl on Klein Salary and CIRM Legislation Prospects

California state Sen. Sheila Kuehl says she doesn't mind if the chairman of the $3 billion California stem cell agency solicits private funds to pay his own salary, although she says the agency should be barred from accepting cash from applicants.

However, the question of private solicitation for salaries is probably moot. CIRM Chairman Robert Klein has told John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Consumer Watchdog group, that he has backed away from the solicitation plan. Simpson told the Etopia News Channel Wednesday that Klein now thinks his proposal is not a good idea.

Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, heads the state Senate Health Committee and is co-author of legislation, SB 1565, aimed at ensuring affordable access to CIRM-financed therapies. CIRM directors officially opposed the legislation last week.

She made her comments regarding Klein in an interview with Etopia News. She also said she is "very satisfied with the progress" of CIRM. On the federal level, she said that changing federal restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research may not even be in the top 10 priorities of Barack Obama.

Kuehl said he has heard "no negatives" from the governor's office on her CIRM bill, which is now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and close to final passage. Unless Big Pharma bends the governor's ear, she expects the measure to be signed into law.

The bill has had easy going in the legislature. No lawmaker has voted against it.

You can hear Kuehl's 19 minute interview here.

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