Ortiz Agrees To Amend Measure To Revise Proposition 71
Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) on Thursday agreed to make changes to her proposed amendment (SCA 13) to the state constitution that would revise Proposition 71, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Ortiz said she would issue a revised draft of the proposal, which the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved on Thursday, before the full Senate takes up the matter next week (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/27).
Ortiz's revisions, which she created following a Wednesday meeting with Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee Chair Robert Klein, include the omission of a requirement that ICOC members and the president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine must divest or place in blind trusts any financial interests that could potentially pose conflicts of interest.
Instead, the amendment would require the public disclosure of financial interests for the CIRM president and ICOC members. ICOC members would have to recuse themselves from voting if they have a conflict of interest, as defined by the state's Political Reform Act.
Members of working groups also would be required to disclose their financial interests to CIRM, but those documents would not be released to the public -- a change from Ortiz's original proposal. The state auditor would review the documents annually and report to the Legislature on conflict-of-interest compliance.
Peer-review meetings would be held in private. However, Ortiz's revised bill would require review committees to prepare written summaries of their reasons for recommending or rejecting proposals. These documents would be released to the public. The subcommittee would be required to hold an open meeting to allow public comment before submitting recommendations to ICOC.
Ortiz and Klein "continue to disagree" on a provision of her bill that would require treatments developed through CIRM grants to be affordable and accessible to California residents. Ortiz has suggested a model used by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, but Klein would prefer a different approach.
Klein and Ortiz will conduct additional research and consult legal opinions to try to reach a compromise on the issue.
Klein also "voiced his concerns" about parts of the bill dealing with intellectual property, the Contra Costa Times reports. He said the provisions could impede the state's ability to issue the bonds. Ortiz on Thursday said she would not favor any measure that would jeopardize the sale of bonds (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 5/27).
"This is not an easy fight to have - with friends," Ortiz said. "I think it's necessary. I am not sure this is something that can be left to chance" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/27). "Mr. Klein has made it clear that he believes this should not happen this year," Ortiz said, adding, "We will respectfully disagree" (Contra Costa Times, 5/27).
"I have a very tough time ahead of me," Ortiz said. She added, "I'm not convinced I can get a two-thirds vote in the Senate" (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 5/27).
Klein on Thursday issued a statement "saying he was encouraged" by Ortiz's revisions, but he also said that the amendment was a bad idea, the Mercury News reports. "Jamming it through the Legislature by June 30 for a special election in November unnecessarily creates huge risks that unworkable language and provisions will make it impossible to carry out the mission of the institute," Klein said (San Jose Mercury News, 5/27).
Klein said the bill was "a train wreck waiting to happen for Prop. 71."
ICOC member Jeff Sheehy said, "I don't think it's any joke to say we are hanging by a thread." He added, "Putting this back on the ballot now puts this whole enterprise at risk" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/27).
Referring to President Bush's pledge to veto legislation to expand federal funding for stem cell research, a Times editorial states that if "Bush goes through with his veto plan, California stands to benefit hugely." Although "Bush's personal convictions are getting in the way of his national obligations," his veto "will only help the state establish itself as the stem cell research capital," the editorial states (Contra Costa Times, 5/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.