Legal Challenge to Proposition 71 Underway
A trial involving two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 71 began on Monday, with plaintiffs' lawyers saying the state stem cell agency does not have sufficient government oversight to administer state funds, the Sacramento Bee reports. Proposition 71 will provide $3 billion over 10 years to fund stem cell research.
The lawsuits were filed by People's Advocate, the National Tax Limitation Foundation and the California Family Bioethics Council (Wasserman, Sacramento Bee, 2/28).
David Llewellyn, an attorney for CFBC, said that some Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee members' ties to biotechnology companies and the University of California constitute a conflict of interest because of benefits those institutions could derive from Proposition 71 funding (Elias, AP/Los Angeles Daily News, 2/28).
In addition, Robert Taylor, an attorney for People's Advocate, said he would not call any witnesses during the case but instead would use campaign literature, initiative documents and excerpts of depositions from ICOC members (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/28).
Deputy Attorney General Tamar Pachter said the plaintiffs' arguments have been successful only in cases in which state funds were being used for non-state purposes (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 2/28).
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw is presiding over the trial without a jury (AP/Los Angeles Daily News, 2/28). She is expected to issue a ruling this spring (Sacramento Bee, 2/28).
An appeal is expected in the case regardless of the ruling. ICOC officials expect the appeals process to continue for about 15 months (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 2/28).
Klein on Monday said that the agency has sufficient funds to maintain operations through June and added that he is close to securing an additional $50 million in donations. The additional donations would fund operations through 2006 and allow some grants to be awarded (Johnson, Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times, 2/28).
Several broadcast programs reported on the lawsuit:
- APM's "Marketplace": The segment includes comments from CIRM Chair Robert Klein; Joanne Kurtzberg, chief of blood and marrow transplantation at Duke University Medical Center; Ron Prentice, executive director of the California Family Council; and Jesse Reynolds, project director on biotechnology accountability at the Center for Genetics and Society (Babin, "Marketplace," APM, 2/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- APM's "Marketplace Morning Report": The segment includes comments from Dana Welch, director of the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and Economy (Dornhelm, "Marketplace Morning Report," APM, 2/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPBS' "KPBS News": The segment includes comments from John Simpson, lead author of a January report from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights on recommendations for CIRM (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 2/27). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "The California Report": The segment includes comments from James Harrison, attorney for CIRM, and Prentice (Kelly, "The California Report," KQED, 2/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Day to Day": The segment includes comments from Janet Babin of APM's "Marketplace" and Kurtzberg (Chadwick, "Day to Day," NPR, 2/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.