Stem Cell Research Program Valid, Judge Rules
Proposition 71, approved by voters in 2004 to provide $3 billion for stem cell research, does not violate state law, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Tansey, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/22).
According to the proposed ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw, plaintiffs in the case, including two taxpayer groups and the California Family Bioethics Council, failed to show that Proposition 71 "is clearly, positively and unmistakably unconstitutional" (Wasserman, Sacramento Bee, 4/22).
Sabraw wrote, "Plaintiffs did not present any evidence that the state is appropriating funds for any purpose or benefit other than a public purpose." She also wrote that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee "are operating in the same fashion as other state agencies" (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 4/22).
Sabraw rejected arguments that ICOC board members' affiliations with organizations that could seek Proposition 71 grants represented a conflict of interest, saying members are required to complete financial disclosure forms and are barred from voting on applications involving their employers or institutions (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 4/22).
Plaintiffs had argued that Proposition 71 violated the state Constitution because it created a publicly funded agency that was not "under the exclusive management and control" of the state (Los Angeles Times, 4/22).
Sabraw will consider finalizing the ruling within 10 days, after which both sides can file objections (Contra Costa Times, 4/22).
CFBC attorney David Llewellyn said on Friday that the court "misconstrued its duty" to properly examine the constitutionality of Proposition 71 and that Sabraw accepted that "everything in [Proposition] 71 is constitutional because that's what [Proposition] 71 says" (Sacramento Bee, 4/22).
Llewellyn said an appeal is likely (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/22).
CIRM Chair Robert Klein said the ruling likely will make it easier for the institute to sell bond anticipation notes to fund stem cell research. CIRM has received authority to issue up to $200 million in notes, Klein said (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/22).
The institute already has released $12.1 million in research training grants funded through bond anticipation notes (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/22).