Members and friends of Virginia Bio,
Participating in the process of public policy formation is a year round non-stop endeavor.
You may have noticed in the press that on December 4 the Governor hosted a roundtable on the commercialization of university bioscience research, the first event in a biotech initiative he announced to support the industry and determine public policy changes that will help. Virginia Bio was pleased to be an important resource to the Administration in planning this important event. MIT’s Robert Langer provided insights and inspiration. Highlights and insights from seven successful and varied university commercialization programs and experiences across the state were presented - what’s worked, what barriers remain, and what are the opportunities ahead. There was wide-ranging Q&A and discussion with the Governor and four Secretaries in his Administration. Working groups are forming to continue the discussion and evaluation, and make specific recommendations for changes which would make Virginia the best state in the nation for commercializing university bioscience research. The Governor has asked for the recommendations to be delivered to him in April, at Virginia Bio’s April 23 statewide conference; more conference information below.
Of course some seasons of the year are a little busier than others. State public policy is about to get really busy as the 2015 Session of the General Assembly kicks off on January 14. This being an odd calendar year and therefore the second year in a biennial budget, this year’s GA Session will be a short session, scheduled for 30 days but typically extended to 45 days.
At companies and research labs we work day after day and step by step to make progress on our important goals, and Virginia Bio works hard to help our members do this successfully. But each of us is swimming in a larger current, too. The conditions of this current can be with us or against, be it the economy, global current events and federal and state public policy. That’s why Virginia Bio makes significant efforts to assure the conditions of state public policy support the industry, to help our members achieve their important work for the benefit of all.
We are already busy reviewing bills which are being pre-filed in both the House and Senate prior to the star of the legislative session, and we will bring important legislation being offered to your attention. If you’re curious, follow bills as they are filed and the progress of all bills during the Session at http://legiscan.com/VA/legislation
It is no secret that the state’s revenues are down significantly and across the board budget cuts are being put in place. Even with all adjustments to date, the budget shortfall currently stands at approximately $320 million. It is unrealistic to think that the agenda promoting policies like tax credits and grants to spur entrepreneurship and innovation will be immune to such pressure. So our efforts have been ongoing throughout the year, and will continue, to explain to policy makers the importance and impact of these programs on economic activity, company and job growth, and defend the gains we have made over the past decade.
This pressure makes all the more important that we receive fresh input from our members about the relative importance of various public policies. Will you help us by taking 5 minutes to complete a survey
on your personal experience and opinions on the impact of the public policies and programs in place in the Commonwealth? Take the VA Bio survey here.
In addition, over the course of the next several months we will have periodic conference calls for those interested in learning what issues have arisen, how our policy agenda is progressing, and how they can help us succeed, by strategizing and contacting elected officials. The first call for the 2015 Session is scheduled for Monday, January 5 at 3:00 pm. Call in details to learn the policy agenda progress are here and all members are invited to listen in and participate.
On December 17 the Governor will deliver his proposed budget amendments for the coming year. The weeks following will feature comparisons and attempts at persuasion, and work with the General Assembly. If no amendments are agreed to by the General Assembly and Governor, the current two year budget passed into law in a special session some months ago will remain in effect unchanged.
Recall that the current budget calls for significant cuts in funding CRCF and GAP funds, and zeros out VBHRC (the “Catalyst”) for the coming fiscal year.
The second week in February is “Crossover” at the General Assembly; legislation which has passed one Chamber moves to the other Chamber for consideration. As in the past, Virginia Bio will host a reception for legislators and networking event for members that week. Thursday, February 12, we will hold an open reception for all members of Virginia Bio from across the state and for members of the General Assembly and Administration
at the headquarters of kaléo inc in downtown Richmond (Shockoe Bottom), just blocks away from the Capitol, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm
. Kaléo is one of Virginia’s most well-known and dynamic young pharma companies and recently gained national recognition when it received FDA approval of EVZIO for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose.
We arrange for our periodic statewide board meetings of our Board of Directors, Board of Advisors and Academic Council to immediately precede the reception, to assure that leaders of the industry statewide are at the event in Richmond to speak with our elected representatives. This makes it a wonderful and convenient opportunity for you to renew ties with scores of statewide leaders and share your experiences and ideas with our policy makers. Please join us if you can. Members can register here for the Board Meeting. If you would like to help sponsor
this important event, please contact either Sherri Halloran
Finally, state and federal public policy matters will be on the program at our statewide daylong conference, THRIVE, scheduled for April 23, 2015 at the Westfields Marriot in Chantilly
. Both federal and state policy makers have been invited, and we are now putting together programs on pressing issues. You will recall at our last statewide conference in Charlottesville in Spring 2013 both a US Senator and Congressman spent the day with us participating in various sessions, as did a number of state legislators. The Governor, several Secretaries and multiple state legislators have already committed to participating at our event in April. Find details about our THRIVE conference here
Feel free to contact me directly at any time, and join policy group if you are interested.