San Francisco Chronicle Examines Provisions of Measure To Fund Stem Cell Research
The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday examined several provisions included in the "fine print" of Proposition 71, a bond measure approved by voters on Nov. 2 that will fund stem cell research (Tansey, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/8).
Proposition 71 calls for California to issue bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote stem cell research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center, as well as grants and loans for lab projects. State analysts say the measure will cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 12/7).
According to the Chronicle, the provisions include:
- A clause granting the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which was created by the measure, the authority to use the stem cell research grants for "other scientific and medical research and technologies," according to the eight-page initiative;
- A clause prohibiting the Legislature from modifying the law for three years, after which any changes would have to be approved by a 70% vote of both chambers of the Legislature and the governor;
- A clause requiring the institute to use the bond money for interest payments. The provision could divert $200 million of the $300 million in annual bond sales toward interest instead of research grants;
- A clause that exempts the institute from California laws requiring open meetings and publicly available records; and
- A clause that allows "changes to ethical safeguards in research."
Marcy Darnovsky, spokesperson for the Center for Genetics and Society, said, "There's a lot of ... 'trust-us' language in" Proposition 71.
Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said, "Hopefully the new board will do the right thing" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/8).