July 21, 2008
California's Stem Cell Affordability Bill (SB 1565) has received no mention in the mainstream media, but has caused a tremendous stir. Sponsored by Sens. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, and George Runner, R-Antelope Valley, the measure will supposedly ensure equal and affordable access to any products developed through the state taxpayer-funded $3 billion stem cell grant program, give more flexibility for approval of projects by the grants review working group, and provide for an audit of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) governing board. So far no legislator has voted against it, and it will likely soon come to Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signature.
But during the legislative process, it has been attacked relentlessly by some embryonic stem cell advocates and by surrogates of the CIRM, Sen. Kuehl has been personally, viciously attacked by those same forces, and questions about the leader of California's embryonic stem cell enterprise have re-surfaced. In particular there has been criticism of Robert Klein holding dual, and conflicting, positions as chairman of the state stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and president of the advocacy group, Americans for Cures. With the rather apparent conflict of interest, there were calls for Klein to resign from one or the other position, but despite some reports that he had resigned as president of Americans for Cures, that has yet to be confirmed.
For more stories and details on the histrionics in California, check the California Stem Cell Report.