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News Beat June 2018 Feature Story
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Public Policy Update: State Legislative Recap, Congressional Leaders
Come to Washington to Talk Innovation, Seattle Head Tax and much more! 


Spring has been incredibly busy on the political front. In our February Newsbeat we highlighted a number of issues Life Science Washington (LSW) was working on with our Congressional delegation and state legislators, including: the Medical Device Tax Suspension, Orphan Drug Tax Credit Preservation, and securing over $100 million in the state budget for new life science facilities.


Since then, we have worked with our state legislative leaders to address a range of life science issues before they adjourned for the summer. Here are some highlights:

  •  The legislature restored and fully funded the Life Science Sector Lead position (Maura Little’s old job).
  • The legislature provided an additional $4 million to the Andy Hill Cancer Research Fund bringing the two-year total to $9 million to support cancer research.
  • Senator Palumbo successfully secured $300,000 for life science workforce and industry planning efforts.
  • The Life Science Washington Institute secured an additional $300,000 to support life science commercialization programs; and, 
  • We worked with Representatives Slatter and Harmsworth to kick off a new Science & Technology Caucus which will provide a much needed forum to discuss life science issues in the legislature.

In other good news, the ill-conceived prescription drug price transparency bill (HB 1541), died. We worked with partners to scuttle bills that would have inhibited clinical trials. And, we collaborated with AdvaMed to amend a “right-to-repair” bill to exclude medical devices. This bill would have allowed local vendors to serve as authorized repairs shops, making it possible for inexperienced service providers to repair FDA-approved medical devices.


After adjourning on time for the first time in many years, state legislators have turned their attention to the 2018 elections. All members of the House of Representatives and half of the State Senate are up for re-election. We are working to ensure both current legislators and candidates know the importance of Washington’s life science industry. 


Spring also brought the Life Science Innovation Northwest (LSINW) conference. We were thrilled to have Senator Murray as a keynote speaker this year. She continues to be a tireless champion for the industry. The House Democratic Ways & Means Retreat was in Seattle as well. Representative DelBene hosted the event. We worked with her to convene a panel on next generation CMS reimbursement issues. The panel included representatives from Juno, NanoString, and Adaptive. Both Senator Murray and Representative DelBene have been working overtime this year in support our local life science industry. Please thank them if you see them.


At the local level, Seattle’s head tax has dominated conversation this spring. After learning from members that the proposed head tax would raise their business taxes between 100-400%, we made it a priority to engage immediately with city leaders on the topic. Unfortunately, it was a shouting match, not a rational discussion about policy. Nevertheless, we did secure one of the only exemptions for non-profit research institutes as well as certain medical providers. We also worked with a business coalition to dramatically scale back the size of the tax, include accountability measures, and limit the duration of the tax. 


Marc Cummings, our Vice President of Public Policy, worked with City Council members and testified at several hearings in an effort to educate them on the tax’s potential disproportionate impact on life science companies. It was heartening to see a number of Council members speaking specifically about the need to sustain the city’s life science industry given the decades spent developing it. Unfortunately, the majority of council members do not share this outlook. This makes the 2019 elections critical to the future of our industry in Seattle. 


Enjoy the summer. Remember it is an election year. Please talk to your elected officials and help increase awareness regarding what it takes to build a life science company in Seattle


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