Friday, February 01, 2008

2008 General Assembly Update: Biotech Bills Still Alive

The 2008 Session of the Virginia General Assembly is nearing the infamous half way point known as "crossover" where each house of the legislature must finish acting on its own bills and resolutions. Staff and volunteers of the Virginia Biotechnology Association are walking the halls and attending numerous committee meetings for about 30 key bills and resolutions that are of specific interest to the bioscience community. Those bills can be viewed here:

House of Delegates Members Bob Purkey (R-Virginia Beach) and Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax) have joined forces and agreed to roll their similar bills together at a House Finance subcommittee meeting on February 1st. After testimony in favor of the bills from VaBIO Executive Director Mark Herzog and Eric Edwards, the chief science officer of Intelliject, a Richmond-based medical device firm, the subcommittee voted to report the bill favorably to the full committee. The combined bills are now under HB 125.

Delegate Mark Sickles HJ 248 and Senator Mark Herring's (D-Loudoun) SB 787 have both advanced in their respective Rules committees and are likely to make it at least to the floors of both houses. These pieces of legislation establish a commission on bioscience within the legislative branch to review the recommendations from previous gubernatorial commissions and identify specific action items for the 2009 session of the General Assembly.

"Senator Herring and Delegates Purkey and Sickles are really going to the wall for us this year," said VaBIO Executive Director Mark A. Herzog. "While we have had some early successes I am afraid that we still have a long way to go through the legislative process."

Please contact your state legislator to let them know that you support these bills and resolutions that will promote the Bioscience industry in Virginia. Here is a link to find out who represents you in Richmond:

Also starting during this 2008 Session is the new bipartisan legislative caucus dedicated to the advancement of the life sciences industry in Virginia. The "Virginia Bioscience Legislative Caucus" (VBLC) was formed in October by the Virginia Biotechnology Association and two leading members of the state legislature, Delegate John O'Bannon, MD (R-Henrico) and Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston). The VBLC, which now has more than forty members, will serve as a bipartisan forum for lawmakers to coordinate polices being developed in human, plant, and animal biosciences and devices. Such dialogue can lead to better understanding as to how to both grow Virginia's economy and benefit our citizens with new life-saving medicines.

The Caucus has its kick-off breakfast on Tuesday, February 5 at the Richmond Marriott. All VaBIO members are encouraged to attend. Click here for details:

For more information about the VaBIO legislative agenda or to volunteer, please call us at 804-643-6360.

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