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Details about trial challenging Proposition 71

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    Details about trial challenging Proposition 71

    While there are a number of articles concerning the trial, this is the only one that I have found that provides some inside details concerning the trial and what the litigant is seeking to do.

    State agency for stem cells in court again
    Finance, rules of operation supersede ethics in proceedings
    By Rebecca Vesely, STAFF WRITER

    Leaders of the state's $3 billion stem cell program will be back in an Alameda County courtroom Monday, when trial arguments begin over the constitutionality of the new state agency.

    The trial will focus not on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research but on public finance and state agency rules.

    "This is about day-to-day accountability of appointed officials," said Dana Cody, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-abortion group, who is representing a group challenging the state agency.


    The state's stem cell institute is overseen by a 29-member body called the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, ICOC. Members are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and leadership at the University of California. They include patient advocates, biomedical professionals and deans of the state's top medical schools.

    The legal challenge was brought by the People's Advocate, the National Tax Limitation Foundation and the California Family Bioethics Council — groups that claim the ICOC operates with little accountability to taxpayers.

    Cody said she will argue that the ICOC is unconstitutional because the group operates outside of exclusive management control of the state. Members of the ICOC serve terms longer than those who appoint them — six to eight years — and cannot be removed except under extreme circumstances by the state attorney general, such as committing a felony, she said.

    "I don't know of any other state that has something like this," Cody said.

    Nicole Pagano, spokeswoman for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said in an e-mail that the ICOC is accountable by the fact that most members are appointed by elected state officials.

    "They are subject to an annual financial audit to be reviewed by the state controller," Pagano said.

    She added that the institute follows other state laws regarding conflicts of interest, personnel issues and providing information to the public.

    The trial is expected to last about two weeks and also will focus on the validity of the Proposition 71 election and claims that the ballot initiative violates federal and state bond laws.

    The lawsuit has prevented the state from issuing bonds to finance the stem cell program. Instead, the fledging agency has relied on donations to keep basic operations going.

    The institute plans to issue $50 million in bond anticipation notes this spring — creative financing in which investors would be repaid only if the Proposition 71 bonds are sold.

    Cody said her group would file an injunction to block the financing plan.

    ICOC officials have expressed optimism that the institute will prevail in the legal fight.

    Last fall, Judge Bonnie Sabraw of Alameda County Superior Court ruled that the plaintiffs challenging Prop. 71 didn't adequately prove their case.

    Still, Sabraw allowed the lawsuit to move forward to trial, despite a request to dismiss it altogether by the leaders of the stem cell agency.

    Even if the state prevails, the appeals process likely won't be exhausted for another 15 months, leaving the stem cell agency in limbo for the foreseeable future.

    Cody said she has received death threats from patient advocates over the case.

    "People actually think that when the lawsuit ends, there will be cures a few months later," she said. "It's a pipe dream."


    As can be seen the opponents took a backdoor approach to derail prop 71

    Passing alternative bills is also a backdoor approach to stop ESC research. They would be used to support the notion that ESC isn't really needed. They also are trying to drain some support from HR 810 by offering these other bills.