Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

OCTOBER 5, 2004 POSITION ON PROPOSITION 71 -- "STEM CELL RESEARCH AND CURES INITIATIVE" OCTOBER 5, 2004 POSITION ON PROPOSITION 71 -- "STEM CELL RESEARCH AND CURES INITIATIVE"

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

FROM: CITY MANAGER

DATE: OCTOBER 5, 2004

SUBJECT: POSITION ON PROPOSITION 71 -- "STEM CELL RESEARCH AND CURES INITIATIVE"

RECOMMENDATION

Consider taking a City position on Proposition 71.

BACKGROUND

A stem cell is an "unspecialized" cell found in both animals and humans that has the potential to develop into different types of specialized cells in the body. Some scientists believe that stem cell research may at some point result in new treatments for diseases, such as Parkinsonís, Alzheimerís, heart disease, or diabetes. Currently, the federal government provides funding for various types of stem cell research conducted nationwide, however the federal government places certain funding restrictions for research that uses embryonic stem cells. In California, the University of California and other medical research facilities engage in stem cell research and spend upwards of estimated tens of millions of dollars each year in private and federal funds.

DISCUSSION

In accordance with City Council policy, Mayor Pro Tem Larry Clark requests the Council consider taking a position in support of Proposition 71, which would authorize the state to sell $3 billion in general obligation bonds to fund stem cell research and research facilities.

Proposition 71 proposes to accomplish the following:

  • Establish "California Institute for Regenerative Medicine" to regulate stem cell research and provide funding, through grants and loans.
  • Establish constitutional right to conduct stem cell research; prohibit Instituteís funding of human reproductive cloning research.
  • Establish oversight committee to govern the Institute.
  • Provide General Fund loan up to $3 million for the Instituteís initial administration and implementation costs.
  • Authorize issuance of general obligation bonds to finance Institute activities up to $3 billion subject to annual limit of $350 million.
  • Appropriate monies from General Fund to pay for bonds.

According to the League of Women Votersí website, arguments for and against Prop 71:

SUPPORTERS SAY

  • Stem cell research could lead to treatments and cures for many diseases and injuries, cutting Californiaís health care costs.
  • Proposition 71 prohibits funding for human cloning, reinforcing existing state law.
  • Proposition 71 will generate thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in new state revenues.

OPPONENTS SAY

  • California voters have already approved billions of dollars in bond debt this year. Additional borrowing now is not responsible.
  • Big pharmaceutical companies and venture capitalists are using taxpayers to fund the very narrow field of stem cell research.
  • Since Proposition 71 is a constitutional amendment, neither the governor nor the Legislature can control how this money is spent, even if stem cell research is not useful.

Supporters of Proposition 71 include, but not limited to, Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Marin County Board of Supervisors, City of West Hollywood, Alzheimer's Association California Council, California Medical Association, American Nurses Association of California, American Diabetes Association, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, Parkinson's Action Network, California Congress of Seniors, Gray Panthers and the National Coalition for Cancer Research.

Formal opponents of Proposition 71, besides the coalition named "Doctors, Patients and Taxpayers for Fiscal Responsibility", are not readily apparent.

FISCAL IMPACT

The State Legislative Analystís estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact:

  • State cost of about $6 billion over 30 years to pay off both the principal ($3 billion) and interest ($3 billion) on the bonds. Payments averaging about $200 million per year.
  • Unknown potential state and local revenue gains and cost savings to the extent that the research projects funded by this measure may result in additional economic activity and reduced public health care costs.

PREPARED BY

Gina Park

Assistant to the City Manager

APPROVED BY

Les Evans

City Manager

Attachment: Proposition 71 Legislative Summary for the November 2004 Ballot