A bond proposal organised by the group Californians for Stem Cell Research and Cures (CSCRC) in order to facilitate state funding for embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research, has qualified for ballot on 2 November. The campaign, which began in February, aimed to establish a three billion dollar bond. The campaign group wanted the bond to provide $295 million of state funding per year to Californian universities, research institutes and companies involved in research into ES cells taken from human embryos that are less than two weeks old. It also wants to allocate funding for cloning projects to create stem cells for regenerative therapies, but specifies that cloning for reproductive purposes is not to be allowed.
The group also proposed that a 29-member panel be established, appointed by state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, chancellors of the University of California and other officials, to distribute the funds in the form of grants. To qualify for the November ballot, CSCRC had to obtain the signatures of 600,000 Californians by 16 April, but the petition far exceeded this number: over one million voters had signed by that date when supporters of the proposal submitted the petition to Kevin Shelley, the Californian Secretary of State.
Shelley certified the proposal last week and it will now be considered in the November ballot. If the bill - seen as a counter to the restrictive ES cell policies of the Bush administration - succeeds in November, California will be the first US state to publicly fund ES cell research.