Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Court weighs $3 billion Calif. stem cell agency's future

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — The financial future of California's $3 billion human embryonic stem cell research institute went on trial Monday as taxpayer groups tried to block the state-funded research.
Two lawsuits seek to invalidate the law that created the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which is authorized to hand out an average of $300 million in research grants annually. The lawsuits claim the agency violates a constitutional mandate that the state control spending of taxpayer dollars.

Robert Taylor, who represents the People's Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation, told a judge that the 29 members who oversee the institute and the people they appoint to research committees do not report directly to the state.

"The delegates who were selected from time-to-time were acting as free agents," Taylor told Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw during his opening statement.
Sabraw is hearing the trial without a jury. The second lawsuit was filed by the non-profit California Family Bioethics Council, which describes itself as a stem cell research watchdog.
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