Judges Give Green Light to California Stem Cell Institute
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will begin issuing state bonds to fund stem cell research after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to hear an appeal challenging CIRM's constitutionality, the Los Angeles Times reports (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 5/17).
Opponents of CIRM petitioned the state Supreme Court to review a Feb. 27 appeals court decision that the institute was in fact constitutional. The plaintiffs -- People's Advocate, the National Tax Limitation Foundation and the California Family Bioethics Council -- alleged that the state does not have adequate oversight over CIRM, which will administer $3 billion in state funds for stem cell research over 10 years (Downing, Sacramento Bee, 5/17).
Proposition 71, the ballot measure that created CIRM, won approval from 59% of state voters in the November 2004 election (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/17).
The state did not issue bonds while the lawsuits moved through the courts (Sacramento Bee, 5/17).
The state in 2006 authorized the treasurer's office to issue $250 million in bonds as soon as the lawsuits were resolved (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/17).
Robert Klein, chair of CIRM's governing committee, said that the first $250 million in bonds will be issued in July or August (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/17). Proceeds will be used to repay $153 million in loans to CIRM from the state and $45 million in loans from philanthropists, according to Klein (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/17).
The loans made it possible for CIRM to continue operations and begin issuing grants while the lawsuits proceeded.
Klein said the state would issue a second major round of bonds later in 2007 (Sacramento Bee, 5/17). He said CIRM bonds could total more than $300 million in 2007 (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/17).
Because the lawsuits were centered on state issues, lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendants said that the claim could not be pursued in federal courts.
However, plaintiffs' attorney Dana Cody said other challenges could address specific actions of the CIRM board (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/17).