California Senate Passes Stem Cell Research Audit Bill, Heads to House
by Steven Ertelt
June 2, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The California state Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would audit and provide some regulation of the committee Proposition 71 created to disburse $6 billion in taxpayer funds for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.
Sen. Deborah Ortiz, a Democrat, successfully guided her bill, SB 18, to a unanimous 37-9 vote.
The bill requires the state auditor to conduct a performance review of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, which distributes the grants. Existing law allows the auditor to do so, but does not require it.
The bill also requires the committee to disclose health risks to women who donate eggs to be used to create human embryos set to be destroyed in the research.
SB 18 also prevents the buying and selling of fetal tissue and human eggs, so stem cell researchers do not exploit women.
The bill now heads to the state Assembly for consideration.
Earlier this month, legislation that would help solve some of the problems of conflicts of interests on the state’s new panel advanced in the state legislature.
The bill, SCA13, sponsored by Sens. Deborah Ortiz, a Democrat, and George Runner, a Republican, would strengthen conflict of interest rules on any research authorized by Proposition 71. The measure received approval from a Senate election committee 5-0.
According to the bill, the stem cell panel would be required to follow standards issued by the National Institutes of Health.
Those rules prohibit employees from holding biotech or pharmaceutical stocks. The California measure would extend those requirements to the entire California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and its advisory groups.
In order to become law, the measure must be approved on two-thirds votes from both the state House and Senate and be approved by California voters.
Thanks to lawsuits filed against the statewide committee charged with distributing billions in grants for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, donations for such research won’t be made until at least the fall.
Consumer groups and pro-life advocates associated with the campaign to defeat Proposition 71 filed lawsuits against the new panel. The result is that the cloning and embryonic research grants will be delayed because the sale of bonds to raise funds for grants has to be postponed.
The lawsuits filed by consumer groups People’s Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation, allege that the state is illegally funding the stem cell panel without being able to have oversight. The lawsuit also cites violations of conflict of interest and state open meetings laws.
The suit also points out that all but two members of the panel were appointed by top state officials, rather than elected or nominated by the public.