Monday, February 11, 2008

Biotech Commission Bill Altered on House Floor

HJ 248, Delegate Sickles' (D-Fairfax) resolution to create a joint subcommission dedicated to studying proposals to advance the biosciences in Virginia, had passed the House Rules committee and was on its way to full passage by the House of Delegates on Friday. However, in a last minute surprise move, Delegate Joe May (R-Loudoun) proposed an amendment in the nature of a substitute on the floor of the House. The revised language, transferring the work of the proposed commission to JCOTS, passed and the measure is now on its way to the Senate. The end result should be the same. The only concern is that in the past, JCOTS had a reputation for being more focused on IT issues. We certainly hope that this is a good opportunity to change that perception in 2008.

Here is the language in the new amended version:

(Proposed by Delegate May
on February 8, 2008)
(Patron Prior to Substitute--Delegate Sickles)
Directing the Joint Commission on Technology and Science to study and advance the development and enhancement of the biosciences and biotechnology in the Commonwealth. Report.

WHEREAS, the biosciences, broadly defined, are producing advances in human knowledge beyond even our most recent optimistic predictions; and

WHEREAS, neighboring states to the Commonwealth as well as states around the country are investing in bioscientific research and have developed strategic plans for, among other things, higher education-based research, public-private partnerships, and venture capital incentives; and

WHEREAS, the Governor’s Commission on Biotechnology has laid the groundwork for a better understanding of the role of these disciplines in the social and economic welfare of the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, future investment in the biosciences and biotechnologies promises to yield improvements in the quality of life for Virginians as well as fellow citizens throughout the nation and the world; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That Joint Commission on Technology and Science be directed to study and advance the development and enhancement of the biosciences and biotechnology in the Commonwealth.

During the course of its study, the Joint Commission on Technology and Science shall ensure the participation and contribution of representatives of Virginia's public research institutions of higher education, the Center for Innovative Technology, the private biotechnology industry, and the Secretary of Technology. The Joint Commission of Technology and Science shall also ensure the involvement of representatives of agricultural and tobacco interests, federal laboratories in Virginia involved in research and technology transfer in life sciences, and the not-for-profit life science and research institutions and laboratories in the Commonwealth.

In conducting its study, the Joint Commission on Technology and Science shall (i) review and implement appropriate and efficacious recommendations of state and national research investigations in the disciplines of bioscience and biotechnology, including the Governor’s Commission on Biotechnology; (ii) examine, continue, and enlarge the work begun by the Governor’s Commission on Biotechnology, including, but not limited to, determining how Virginia’s research universities, federal and state laboratories, biotechnology incubators, research parks, private industry, and other major resources can be leveraged to help make Virginia a more attractive location for the development and enhancement of the biosciences and biotechnology industry; (iii) determine how these resources may increase the development of the biotechnology industry through technology transfer and commercialization of new ideas and discoveries; (iv) assess how strategic initiatives in bioscience and biotechnology may generate economic development and investment in Virginia, particularly in rural and urban regions of the Commonwealth; (v) examine Virginia’s workforce development status, including education, supply, and training needs relative to supporting viable bioscience research and biotechnology industry in the Commonwealth; (vi) evaluate the capacity of bioscience and biotechnology to protect and preserve Virginia’s natural resources; (vii) investigate innovative directions in bioscience, including informational, technological, infrastructure, funding, and long-term research goals, and regulatory needs in areas such as biomedical research; genetic engineering; disease, growth and metabolism, and development and reproduction in livestock, fish and food animals; agricultural biotechnology; and plant diseases and insect pests; (viii) define and recommend the optimal climate that is conducive to basic bioscientific and biotechnological research in Virginia; (ix) identify the type of bioscience and biotechnology industries that the Commonwealth is positioned to attract, recruit, and support due to the state’s workforce, location, and other advantages; (x) consider the work and recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Biotechnology, together with other bodies of research on the application of the biosciences and enhancement of the biotechnology industry; and (xi) develop and recommend a strategic and visionary plan that implements certain of the recommendations deemed feasible and appropriate, establishes Virginia as a national and global leader in bioscience and biotechnology research and application by 2018, and enables the Commonwealth to maintain its national and global leadership thereafter.

The Joint Commission on Technology and Science shall complete its meetings by November 30, 2008, and the chairman shall submit to the Division of Legislative Automated Systems an executive summary of its findings and recommendations no later than the first day of the 2009 Regular Session of the General Assembly. The executive summary shall state whether the joint subcommittee intends to submit to the General Assembly and the Governor a report of its findings and recommendations for publication as a House or Senate document. The executive summary and the report shall be submitted as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports and shall be posted on the General Assembly's website.

No comments: