California stem cell advocates qualify $5.5 billion measure for November ballot

San Francisco Chronicle
By Dustin Gardiner
June 23, 2020

SACRAMENTO — After a last-ditch push for signatures, supporters of a $5.5 billion bond that would keep California’s stem cell research institute in business have qualified their measure for the November ballot.

The measure asks voters to re-fund the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell agency, by allowing it to issue bonds for research, training and facilities construction.

Bob Klein, chairman of Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments and Cures, said the measure would allow California to continue to invest in developing treatment and cures for conditions such as diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

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“It is critical to California families that this vital therapy development pipeline continue to be funded,” he said in a statement.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla notified county elections officials on Monday that the measure had qualified for the ballot, with more than 623,212 valid signatures, the minimum the state requires.

But supporters weren’t always so sure it would cross the mark. In April, the campaign behind the initiative pleaded for people to mail in thousands of signatures, after the state’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic all but halted the efforts of signature gatherers.

Klein attributed their success to support from more than 60 patient-advocate organizations, who urged their members to print out the 16-page copy of the petition and return a signed version.

Dustin Gardiner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dustin.gardiner@sfchronicle.com