The California Healthline announced that one of the most brazen California ballot propositions of all time is coming back for more taxpayer money. A lot more. And voters tend to approve bond measures, especially those that tug on emotional heart strings. It’s the first piece below.
As a reminder, I proposed Senate Constitutional Amendment 7 in 2017 to repeal Proposition 71 for all the same reasons that I will oppose any future measure for state subsidized stem cell research. This research is best left to the private sector.
The billions of dollars Californians have poured into CIRM have failed on every promise they made and 15 years later, I see no path where the state offers anything novel or innovative for another $11 billion of spending. And, I don’t know where the funding will come from to pay the bond’s principal and interest payments.
For a recent review of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), go to MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1004 and CIRM — September 10, 2018.
Now it’s time for the lightening round up here in Sacramento. These next four weeks will be very busy, as we head for the conclusion of Session with a September 13th deadline.
It is a rare event when an article appears in the OC Register on the status of Orange County’s Sacramento delegation and its legislative efforts. But, it recently did in the second piece below.
Some tips. I rarely do resolutions. They are more for recognizing dates and causes. So mine are few and special. Assemblymembers can submit up to 50 bills per two-year session and Senators can submit up to 40. For an update on my remaining six bills, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Bills to Watch After the Summer Break — July 20, 2019. SB 359 and SB 598 were voted out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week and SB 496 passed on the Assembly Floor this morning and will come back to the Senate Floor for concurrence.
In the third piece, the California Globe introduces you to recently introduced educational directives. The Instructional Quality Commission, an advisory committee to the state Board of Education, is receiving the angry reactions it deserves for its proposed new ethnic studies curriculum.
Our state education bureaucracy has been failing our K-12 students in recent and dramatically hypersexualized curriculum changes for comprehensive sexual education. If you have a student in school and have been paying attention, you know what I’m saying.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction even held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to share comments about concerns raised by the Legislative Jewish Caucus.
The piece is rather graphic about what’s in the proposed curriculum. It also provides information from my 2018 report on California’s educational institutions.
I do want to provide one modification to the Globe article. The large increase in the Unrestricted Net Position for 2019 happened with the CSU system ($17 billion), in its June 30, 2018 annual report, not the UC system. UC already included its $19 billion Other Post Employment Benefits in its June 30, 2017 annual audited financial statements (see MOORLACH UPDATE — CSU versus DMV — August 13, 2019).
The piece shows I do more than legislation. I’m trying to wake up Sacramento to the fiscal precariousness almost every city, county, school district and this state is facing. We need more fiscal prudence and oversight in Sacramento. That’s what I’m trying to provide you. Stay tuned.
Short on cures and cash –
California’s stem cell agency to
ask voters for billions more
BY ANA B. IBARRA CALIFORNIA HEALTHLINE
Californians voted in 2004 to shell out billions of dollars in taxpayer money to fund cutting-edge stem cell treatments.
Proposition 71 could lead to cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s and other devastating diseases, voters were told. Actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease, said in one campaign ad that the measure “could save the life of someone you love.”
But 15 years later, there are no readily available cures. And the state’s stem cell agency, which administered the bond money, is about to run out of funding.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) announced in July that it had stopped taking applications for new research projects, and it will award its final grants for new projects by September, an agency spokesperson later said.
But supporters already plan to go back to voters in November 2020 to ask for even more money than last time: $5.5 billion, plus interest. The previous $3 billion bond measure cost taxpayers about $6 billion, with interest.
“It’s a lot of money, even for the state of California,” said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Berkeley-based Center for Genetics and Society.
Her group supports stem cell research but opposed Proposition 71 partly because of its “extremely exaggerated promises for stem cell cures,” she said.no
If you measure the agency’s success against the campaign promises, “then CIRM has been a flop,” Darnovsky said.
But the agency, and the academics who have received the funding, are pushing back, saying scientific research takes time. Even though the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any treatments funded by CIRM, some are under review, researchers say.
CIRM has funded 56 clinical trials of treatments for ailments ranging from cancer, sickle cell disease, HIV and vision loss, said agency spokesman Kevin McCormack.
For instance, scientists say the results from a clinical trial that focused on spinal cord injuries — and was partially funded with a $14.3 million grant from the agency — are promising. One participant, Danville resident Jake Javier, 21, was paralyzed from the chest down in 2016 after a diving accident on his last day of high school. After taking part in the trial, he can now push his own wheelchair because of the motion he regained in his arms and hands. He credits both “natural recovery” and the experimental treatment for his improvement.
“If we’re not here, who funds that?” McCormack said. “The concern is that a lot of promising research might just disappear, because without the money you can’t do the work.”
Stem cells hold great potential for medicine because of their ability to develop into different types of cells in the body, and to repair and renew damaged tissue.
While there are hundreds of clinics across the country that offer unproven and potentially dangerous stem cell treatments, a significant amount of legitimate research is underway — along with some breakthroughs.
When Californians approved Proposition 71 with 59.1 percent of the vote, stem cell research was still in its early stages. Three years earlier, President George W. Bush restricted the use of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, citing his opposition to the destruction of human embryos. President Barack Obama lifted the Bush-era restrictions in 2009.
In the absence of federal funds, Proposition 71 allowed scientists in California to conduct stem cell research using human embryos — in addition to other types of stem cell research. Conservative groups opposed the measure, delaying the early grants by filing lawsuits.
State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, opposed the 2004 measure because he said it made unrealistic promises to voters.
“I’m not anti-stem cell, I’m just anti-oversell,” he said.
Proponents of the measure also said the research would result in revenue for California. The state only recently received its first royalty checks related to brain cancer research funded by the agency, totaling about $286,000.
“All it’s produced in revenue for the state just came in the last year or so, and it was spit,” he said.
Moorlach said he’s against a new bond measure.
But Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, an assistant professor of Pediatrics at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine, said he thinks there is value in going back to voters and “checking their temperature.”
While some private funding and philanthropy does support stem cell research, this type of work is expensive and requires more than a few wealthy donors, Whelan said.
If funding is not replenished, researchers like Jan Nolta, director of the University of California-Davis Stem Cell Program, fear that many promising projects would fall into “the valley of death.”
“That’s just sad to think about, especially for the patients,” she said.
Alysia Vaccaro’s 6-year-old daughter, Evangelina, was a patient in one of the agency-funded clinical trials. Evie, as she is called, was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency, or “bubble baby” disease, weeks after she was born in 2012. Children with this condition have no immune system and are highly vulnerable to infectious diseases.
As an infant, Evie participated in a UCLA trial in which stem cells were taken from her bone marrow, modified to correct the defect, and then re-transplanted.
She is now considered cured and is about to start the first grade in Corona. She has flown on a plane and has received some childhood vaccines with no side effects — things that would have been ill-advised before this treatment.
“She’s now a fully vaccinated 6-year old with a functioning immune system,” Vaccaro said. Participating in the clinical trial was “like winning the lottery.”
Real estate developer Robert Klein, who was principal author and donor of Proposition 71, is drafting the 2020 proposal. He said the new funding would continue the agency’s work and could help expand the Alpha Stem Cell Clinics Network, which was funded by the previous bond measure, into regions such as the Inland Empire and Central California. The network is made up of five clinics statewide that host FDA-approved clinical trials.
“We want to bring these clinical trials closer to patients — make them more accessible,” he said.
This story was produced by Kaiser Health News (KHN), which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation. KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
OC state lawmakers churn out legislation
From climate change to roadkill, area representatives busy with measures
By Brooke Staggs
The dozen legislators representing Orange County in Sacramento have had a busy year, introducing 216 bills, 36 resolutions and one amendment that touch on everything from climate change to international adoption to roadkill.
So far, 13 of those bills and 13 resolutions have been signed into law.
As the legislature gets ready to reconvene Monday, Aug. 12, after summer recess, a few dozen more locally sponsored bills are still alive. The Senate and Assembly have until Sept. 13 to make a final decision on all outstanding bills, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto anything that comes to his desk.
At an average of 21 bills or resolutions each, the county’s representatives are more productive than the state average of 16 laws per representative. But their success rate is lower than what it could be, given that Orange County reps account for 10 percent of the state legislature but only 7.8 percent of the bills that have been signed into law.
One reason is politics. Orange County is represented by seven Republicans and five Democrats, and since Democrats hold a supermajority, overall, Republican leaders can’t get GOP-favored legislation into law. But Stephanie Hu, spokeswomen for Senator Ling Ling Chang, a Republican, argues that also means any GOP bills that do get through are strong.
“We’re in the superminority,” Hu said. “Bad bills won’t get passed.”
While data is interesting, legislative output is a poor measure of performance in Sacramento, cautions Chris Micheli, a longtime lobbyist who now runs a government relations firm. Some legislators can back several noncontroversial bills that do little for constituents, Micheli said, while others might fight to pass a single bill that has sweeping consequences.
With that in mind here’s a look at what Orange County’s state legislators have been up to this session. (Not sure who your representatives are? Check here: legislature.ca.gov/your_legislator.html)
Assemblyman Phillip Chen, AD-55
Chen, R-Brea, in his second term representing northeast OC, has had more bills signed into law this session than any other local representative.
Three of his 21 bills introduced are pending, and these five were approved:
- AB 622: Clarifies that subpoenas can be served in residential buildings that have guards in the lobby.
- AB 716: Lets people filing for fictitious business names verify their identity online.
- AB 1213: Extends until 2024 a program that lets certified legal document assistants file court documents.
- AB 1289: Says alarm companies won’t be fined for failing to renew permits unless they’re legally responsible.
- AB 1429: Lets most businesses file hazardous materials plans once every three years instead of annually.
Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, AD-65
Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, in her third term representing north central OC, has introduced 24 bills, many focused on the housing crisis.
None of her proposed legislation has been signed into law, though components of two bills were incorporated into the state budget. That includes a bill that would have set aside $450 million for rental assistance and subsidies to help house homeless people, and another that would have required the state to use Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to house up to 200 homeless people with mental illness through 2025.
Four Quirk-Silva bills related to housing are still alive in the Assembly. Generally, they would lower income thresholds to get a temporary break on property taxes, and boost support for emergency shelters.
“As North Orange County continues to struggle with a growing housing and homelessness crisis, I find it imperative that I draft legislation that would address these evolving concerns,” Quirk-Silva said.
Assemblyman Steven Choi, AD-68
Choi, R-Irvine, in his second term representing central east OC, has introduced 16 bills. None have been signed, though two are still alive.
One is AB 349, which would require the state to consider requiring new garages to have at least two exits. This was written after recent reports of people dying in wildfires because they couldn’t open garage doors due to power outages.
Choi’s second pending bill — and one he considers his signature bill this cycle — would require families who adopt internationally to file for readoption in California. This means a home visit would be required and the state would issue a birth certificate. The goal of AB 677 is to catch potential child traffickers and make sure adopted children can’t be deported.
Assemblyman Tom Daly, AD-69
Daly, D-Anaheim, in his fourth term representing central OC, introduced 18 bills. Three have been signed into law.
- AB 188: Fixes a loophole that could have caused homeowners to be underpaid by insurance companies if their homes are destroyed in a fire.
- AB 205: Expands the state’s definition of beer to include drinks fermented with honey, fruit juice and other ingredients.
- AB 252: Indefinitely extends a rule that says California consents to federal jurisdiction over how responsibilities are divided when it comes to certain transportation projects on state highways.
Daly also passed a resolution that officially designates May 4 as Star Wars Day in California.
Assemblyman Tyler Diep, AD-72
Diep, R-Westminster, in his first term representing north coastal OC, authored 14 bills. None have passed so far. But Diep pointed out he’s also co-authored legislation with colleagues.
“More can be accomplished on behalf of Californians when the main focus is not taking credit but getting the work done,” he said.
Diep is hopeful that his signature legislation will still get passed. AB 956, which was sponsored by Sheriff Don Barnes, would allow public safety agencies to test technology that could would create more precise locations of people calling 911 from cell phones.
Assemblyman Bill Brough, AD-73
Brough, R-Dana Point, in his third term representing south OC, authored 16 bills. None have been approved, but two are active.
One, AB 230, would ensure veteran subcontractors get the correct compensation for their work. The other, AB 551, would update state standards to require drug testing, along with alcohol testing, after most fatal car crashes.
Brough’s signature bill this session was AB 427, which would have exempted military retirement pay from the state income tax for California veterans. But it died in the Assembly Appropriations committee.
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, AD-74
Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, in her first term representing central coastal OC, introduced 22 bills and recently got her first one signed into law.
– AB 608: Exempts people who are leasing space on fairgrounds or other publicly owned lands from paying property taxes if the property is valued at less than $50,000. The bill came about after Petrie-Norris learned it costs counties more to process those cases than they take in, while burdening small businesses.
Petrie-Norris still has 14 bills pending. That includes her signature bill, AB 65, which would prioritize funding for projects that use green or natural infrastructure (such as managed wetlands) to protect coastal communities from impacts of climate change.
State Senator Ling Ling Chang, SD-29
Chang, R-Diamond Bar, in her first term representing northeast OC, has authored 13 bills this cycle. Two have been signed into law:
- SB 366: Requires the California State University and requests the University of California to give students strategies to prevent cyberbullying during orientation.
- SB 180: Requires sellers of gene therapy kits, commonly known as “DIY CRISPR kits,” to include warnings that they’re not intended for self-administration.
Chang is also optimistic that she’ll pass her signature bill, SB 35, which would create a statewide task force to gather data and combat human trafficking in California.
State Senator Bob Archuleta, SD-32
Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera, in his first term representing north central OC and LA County, has authored 14 bills this session. None have been approved.
Several of Archuleta’s bills appear to be active, including one that would help active duty military get supplemental Medi-Cal coverage for children with special needs.
One of the most interesting has been dubbed the “roadkill bill,” since it would let people collect and consume certain wildlife killed by cars.
Archuleta did pass a resolution this session naming May as National Military Appreciation Month.
State Senator Thomas Umberg, SD-34
Umberg, D-Santa Ana, in his first term representing north coastal OC, has introduced 22 bills this session. Two have been signed into law.
- SB 505: Makes minor changes to the filing requirements for presidential candidates seeking to compete in California’s primary election. (This isn’t the one that makes them release their tax returns, but it would call for politicians to have a website and submit other documentation to show they’re a “recognized candidate.”)
- SB 544: Prohibits staff of the State Bar or members of the examining committee from considering, with few exceptions, a person’s mental health records when reviewing whether an applicant is “of good moral character.”
Umberg is still hoping to pass his signature bill of this cycle, SB 450, which tackles the housing and homelessness problem by easing the conversion of run down motels to supportive or transitional housing.
State Senator Pat Bates, SD-36
Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, in her second term representing south OC, authored 15 bills this session. None have yet been approved.
Key bills still pending include SB 589, which aims to stop deceptive marketing in sober living homes. Bates also hopes to pass SB 465, which provides continued funding for local governments to deal with emergency planning around the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. And she’s pushing for SB 541, which mandates lockdown drills in schools at least once a year.
State Senator John Moorlach, SD-37
Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, in his first full term representing central OC, introduced 19 bills this session. None have been approved.
He still has six active bills. They deal with simplifying the process for residents to overturn city ordinances, modernizing the way local governments report finances, streamlining elections for homeowners associations, letting judges leave the bench early if they defer their pensions, giving authorities more tools to deal with suspected financial abuse of elders, and tracking greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires.
California Education Department Produces Unintelligible Ethnic Studies Gibberish
‘Education leaders’ pushing a 2020 tax increase initiative on the wealthiest Californians for more schools money
By Katy Grimes
More money, no reforms, no school choice expansion equals continued poor achievement by students. ~Lance Izumi
While the California Department of Education has released an unintelligible draft of ethnic studies gibberish, California “education leaders” are pushing a bill for a 2020 initiative that would tax the wealthiest Californians and corporations to raise an additional $11 billion annually for schools. Yet, the 60 percent increase in Kindergarten through 12th grade spending in California’s schools since 2011 hasn’t made a difference in student performance, California Globe recently reported.
The left claims this proposed tax is “building off recent polls showing strong voter support to boost K-12 spending.”
“Sure, they want to raise all that money, but for what?” Lance Izumi said. “To pay for their unfunded pensions? For retiree health benefits? Sixty percent of Los Angeles Unified School District’s budget goes to pensions, benefits and special education.”
“It will be more money down a rat hole with little benefit for kids,” Izumi added. He’s the senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute and author of the new book Choosing Diversity: How Charter Schools Promote Diverse Learning Models and Meet the Diverse Needs of Parents and Children, “Is the CSBA talking about enacting reforms based on the Vergara case (tenure, seniority, dismissal)? Of course not. Are they willing to give kids more school choice? Of course not. More money, no reforms, no school choice expansion equals continued poor achievement by students. And that’s why the teacher unions want to eliminate testing—because test scores almost always show that when they get more money it almost never ends up improving student performance.”
Izumi is right.
Here’s a sample of the draft 2020 Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which would replace a semester of geography:
· Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview
Defining Ethnic Studies
At its core, the field of Ethnic Studies is the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with an emphasis on experiences of people of color in the United States. Further, it is the xdisciplinary, loving, and critical praxis of holistic humanity – as educational and racial justice. It is from communities of color and our intergenerational worldviews, memories, experiences, identities, narratives, and voices. It is the study of intersectional and ancestral roots, coloniality, hegemony, and a dignified world where many worlds fit, for present and future generations.
The field critically grapples with the various power structures and forms of oppression, including, but not limited to, white supremacy, race and racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, that continue to impact the social, emotional, cultural, economic, and political experiences of Native People/s and people of color.
Ethnic Studies is xdisciplinary, in that it variously takes the forms of being interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary, undisciplinary, and intradisciplinary. As such, it can grow its original language to serve these needs with purposeful respellings of terms, including history as herstory and women as womxn, connecting with a gender and sexuality lens, along with a socioeconomic class lens at three of its intersections. Terms utilized throughout this document, which may be unfamiliar to new practitioners of the field, are defined in the glossary.
Dan Walters reports the Legislature’s Jewish caucus, all Democrats, took umbrage with the draft’s section on “Islamophobia,” saying, “we cannot support a curriculum that erases the American Jewish experience, fails to discuss anti-semitism, reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews, singles out Israel for criticism and would institutionalize the teaching of anti-semitic stereotypes in our public schools.”
It wasn’t that long ago California “educators” tried to teach “Ebonics” as a legitimate course of study and language. It took only a year to scrap that silly non-education plan.
Even the Los Angeles Times editorial board questioned the sanity of the California educators: “But ethnic studies courses have little chance of succeeding if they don’t stem from a strong curriculum that challenges students to read, listen, gather facts, analyze those facts and think critically about the controversial issues that will naturally arise.”
“It’s hard to wade through all the references to hxrstory and womxn and misogynoir and cisheteropatriarchy.”
California’s Department of Education appears to be focused on anything and everything but education.
Today’s lesson plans are written by Social Justice Warriors and LGBT activists, and enshrined in the California education code, California Globe recently reported. But what is being foisted on children as young as age five, cannot even be uttered on the public airways, because radio stations would receive a violation letter from the Federal Communications Commission:
· Comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education in grades kindergarten through grade six;
· gender expression and identity;
· Kindergarten books that introduce 5-year-olds to families with members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender;
· Lessons which teach third graders that sexual reproductive organs don’t always match a person’s gender;
· Sexual health lessons that must include examples of same-sex sexual activity. Students should not be separated by sex during these lessons to avoid “misgendering” students.
· Gender is not strictly defined by physical anatomy or sex assigned at birth. Rather, students understand that gender refers to attitudes, feelings, characteristics, and behaviors that a given culture associates with being male or female, sometimes labeled “masculine” and “feminine.” Moreover, a person’s gender identity refers to their sense of self, while gender expression refers to their outward gender presentation including physical appearance and behaviors. Understanding individual differences will help students feel accepted and be more accepting.”
Sacramento City Unified School District is teetering on insolvency. Los Angeles Unified School District’s debt could bring the state down with it.
Sen. John Moorlach and his office did a study of the financial health of the state’s 944 school districts. His October 2018 report found:
· About two-thirds of California’s 944 public school districts run negative balance sheets. These statements show the most distressed districts could soon reach a tipping point into insolvency and receivership.
· Of the state’s large school districts, those in severe distress include Los Angeles Unified School District, with a negative $10.9 billion balance sheet; San Diego Unified at negative $1.5 billion; Fresno Unified at negative $849 million; and Santa Ana Unified at negative $485 million, the worst in Orange County.
· Of the state’s 72 community college districts, only one enjoys a positive unrestricted net position (UNP).
· Cal State University’s balance sheet is negative $3.66 billion.
· The University of California’s balance sheet bleeds red ink all over the state, at negative $19.3 billion. Worse, that will double next year, to $38.6 billion, when retiree medical is included.
Additionally, Moorlach has warned about the financial straights the entire state is in. His March 2018 report on the state’s 482 cities found 2/3 of them in the red; of 58 counties, 55 suffered deficits and only three enjoyed positive balance sheets. His May 2018 report on the 50 U.S. states found only nine were financially healthy, with California ranked among the worst, in 42nd place.
Moorlach has been warning of a coming “tipping point into insolvency and receivership,” suggesting that the state is not addressing its most immediate needs, and instead fiddling in frivolous and even preposterous distractions.
Test scores almost always show that when they get more money it almost never ends up improving student performance.
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