Several Initiatives Affecting Life Sciences Industry Vying to be on 2020 Ballot

By Brett Johnson
Nov. 21, 2019

Looking ahead at 2020, we anticipate a ballot crowded with initiatives, many of which could have a significant impact on California’s life sciences industry. The issues being covered range from consumer privacy, which we have previously discussed at length, to commercial property taxes and funding for California’s stem cell agency.

First, as discussed in other CLSA bulletins, the language of Alastair Mactaggart’s “Privacy 2.0” initiative has recently been finalized and will likely qualify for inclusion on the November 2020 ballot. CLSA will be working with our partner trades to continue our efforts to protect clinical trial and real-world data (RWD), data required to be collected by the FDA for safety/recalls/adverse effects, and the type of data shared across research entities. Such data was threatened by the original initiative, and our efforts continue in ensuring clear distinctions between “data collected and intended for sale/marketing” versus “data collected and used for good/healthcare/diagnostics, etc.” are adopted and maintained.

Second, a property tax “split roll” initiative has been cleared for the ballot and would impact all California businesses, including our member companies with significant real property interests in high tax regions of the state – with a greater impact on those who have owned real property for longer periods of time. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated such an initiative could cost California’s business community up to an additional $10.5 billion per year in property taxes.

Third, backers of the California stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, have filed a proposed ballot measure to refinance the agency with $5.5 billion. The 30-page initiative, filed last month, would also restructure a number of aspects of the agency and provide for financial assistance for patients and their families who might be involved in clinical trials. The proposal was submitted by Robert Klein, the Palo Alto real estate investment banker who led the ballot campaign creating the agency in 2004. In addition to stem cell research, the proposed initiative would provide for awards for other “vital research” opportunities and training. CHI and BayBio both supported the original initiative.

Finally, one of California’s longest-running single-issue political battles, dealing with limits on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, is about to heat up again. A 2020 ballot measure to largely nullify California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which limits “pain and suffering” compensation to $250,000, has been filed. The most recent clash on this issue was Proposition 46, a 2014 ballot measure backed by Consumer Watchdog and personal injury attorneys that would have more than quadrupled the $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages. The proponents spent more than $12 million on the campaign, but medical providers and insurers spent five times as much, and the measure was rejected by an overwhelming 2-1 margin. The initiative could have an impact on the volume of medical malpractice litigation in the state, which could impact CLSA member companies.

Any CLSA members who would like to provide input or would like further information on the initiatives discussed herein and CLSA’s related efforts are asked to reach out to Brett Johnson, CLSA’s Senior Director, Policy & Regulatory Affairs (