Proposition 71 Might Have Implications for Other States
California's experience with Proposition 71 "could serve as an example of what to do -- or what to avoid -- for other states trying to set up stem cell programs," the New York Times reports. Proposition 71 was approved by voters in November 2004 to fund stem cell research.
According to the Times, there is a "danger of taxpayer revolt" if promises made during the ballot campaign and subsequently are not upheld. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine officials also are "backpedaling somewhat" on estimates of "sizable royalties" the state would receive from discoveries made with taxpayer money, the Times reports.
Delays in grant allocation, due to lawsuits challenging the measure's constitutionality, also could "threaten the allure of California as a magnet for stem cell scientists," according to the Times (Pollack, New York Times, 12/10).
CIRM has been "thwarted by lawsuits challenging its constitutionality and tying up its funding" but also has been "stymied by the amount of work, politics and minutiae involved in setting up a state agency that's unlike any other," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Zach Hall, CIRM president and former NIH administrator, said about one-fourth of CIRM's current $1 million in legal expenses can be attributed to legal challenges, while the rest is for "constant procedural questions and guidance."
However, members of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee -- "[d]espite their frustrations" about the lawsuits, public scrutiny and long meetings -- say a lot has been accomplished since ICOC's first meeting in January (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/10).
"[E]thical concerns about egg donation have been built into [CIRM's] research plan" since its inception, and "Proposition 71 explicitly requires informed consent for egg donors and prohibits compensation to them," Hall writes in a letter to the editor of the Sacramento Bee.
Hall, responding to a Nov. 25 Bee editorial, writes that egg donation has been discussed at three public meetings and that CIRM has held additional hearings to gather public opinion. CIRM also is "in the early stages of planning a scientific conference ... to evaluate the current state of scientific and medical knowledge on the issue" (Hall, Sacramento Bee, 12/11).