Public Policy News

San Diego City Council Adopts Affordable Housing Linkage Fee Compromise

After more than a year of intense posturing, negotiation, and finally agreement, the San Diego City Council this week unanimously adopted the linkage fee compromise negotiated between the Jobs Coalition (of which Biocom is a founding member) and the San Diego Housing Commission. Special commendation is due to Craig Benedetto of California Strategies, the Jobs Coalition's principal negotiator throughout this process, and special thanks are extended to Mayor Faulconer and San Diego City Councilmembers Lorie Zapf, Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman for their unwavering support; to Councilmembers Todd Gloria and Myrtle Cole for working diligently with the coalition to arrive at compromise, and to Councilmember Sherri Lightner for having a continuous dialogue with Biocom throughout this process and listening to and heeding the industry's concerns.

Biocom is pleased with this version, as it contains an exemption from the increase for Research and Development construction, a gradual phase-in of the fee increase, and a strong regulatory reform package.

The compromise includes:
•    Beginning January 1, 2015, raise the linkage fee 100% over the course of 3 years (annual increase of 33.3% to restore the fee back to its original 1990 level)
•    Full exemptions for warehouse, manufacturing and non-profit hospital construction
•    Exemption from the increase for Research and Development construction (R&D will continue to pay the fee at its current rate of $0.80 per square foot)
•    Removal of the municipal code language that requires the San Diego Housing Commission to bring forward a suggested linkage fee increase on an annual basis in accordance with a construction cost index
•    Direction from the City Council to Mayor Faulconer’s office to bring forward a regulatory reform package to streamline the development process for all housing types – affordable and market rate – to drive down the cost of housing
•    Direction from the City Council to the Housing Commission to bring forward an improved and strengthened linkage fee waiver process for high-wage employers

The full ordinance can be found here. Biocom looks forward to continuing discussions to make sure the reforms are implemented, and alternative sources of funding for affordable housing are explored and identified.

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City of San Diego Passes Mandatory Water Restrictions

In a widely-expected move, the San Diego City Council has adopted mandatory water use restictions.  These restrictions have to do with watering landscaping, use of water to wash cars and similar activities.  Please be aware that these specific restrictions DO NOT affect process water used in industry.  Biocom's Public Policy department will diligently monitor activities with regard to proposals which would affect water allocations at any level and keep you apprised accordingly.

Biocom member KPBS has done an excellent piece on the restrictions adopted this week.  That article can be found here.

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NCATS SBIR & STTR Funding to Advance Translational Research & Small Business Innovation

Monday, October 27, 2014 – 12:00 pm (EDT)
Are you interested in learning more about how you can leverage non-dilutive funding to advance your research and technology development? Through its SBIR and STTR funding opportunities, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) can help.

Register today to join NCATS and BIO on October 27 for a webinar on how NCATS can support small businesses and technology transfer organizations as they develop and discover new therapies and diagnostics to help move bench research to clinical practice and commercialization.

The webinar is free and open to BIO members and other interested small businesses, research organizations, and venture-backed companies. Leaders from BIO and the NIH SBIR and STTR programs will discuss:
o    Program overviews
o    Benefits of NCATS funding
o    Tips for submitting a successful application
o    Key NCATS focus areas to advance clinical research and patient care
o    Upcoming opportunities and deadlines
o    Other resources and programs, including the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) and Bridging Interventional Development Gaps (BrIDGs) programs

Register today to take advantage of this exciting opportunity!

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Biocom Applauds Introduction of Bill Boosting NIH Funding

H.R 5580, the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) right before Congress went into recess at the end of last month. It mirrors legislation introduced by Senator Tom Harkins (D-IA) over the summer (S. 2658).

The bill would amend the Balanced Budget Act to restore the purchasing power the NIH had after the historic doubling campaign that ended in FY2003. The bill includes a trigger of $29.9 billion for NIH (current funding level), after which appropriators can provide up to $46.2 billion at the end of the seven year period from FY 2015-2021. The additional funding allows an initial increase of 10 percent in each of the first two years, followed by 5 percent increases each year thereafter.

Basic research is the foundation for innovation and NIH-funded research has been the driving force behind today’s most incredible biomedical breakthroughs. Biocom has consistently advocated for robust NIH funding and continues to urge lawmakers to increase NIH funding levels.

Click here to view the bill.

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State Legislature Adjourns for 2014; Successful Year for Life Sciences

The state legislature is now adjourned for the year, and once again Biocom had an incredibly successful year at the state level.  This year, Biocom took support positions on 16 bills, and opposed 9. Of these, 6 were high priority for staff and Biocom’s contract counsel.  All 6 high priority bills had favorable outcomes for Biocom’s membership (defeated or amended sufficiently so Biocom removed its opposition).  Once again this year, no bills were signed into law that were opposed by Biocom; in fact, none even got to the Governor for his signature.

Major victories came on bills opposed by Biocom having to do with unnecessary food labelling of products derived from a genetically modified source, prescription and sharps takeback schemes which sought to place all financial and logistical responsibility on manufacturers, and a bill which would have shut down companies in California doing important research on salmon and trout species. A more comprehensive report can be found in the Public Policy section of the Biocom webpage.  Barring an unforeseen special session, the legislature will be in recess until its new class is sworn in on December 1, 2014.

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Cal-BRAIN Seed Grant Program - Call for Applications

Cal-BRAIN (California Blueprint for Research to Advance Innovations in Neuroscience) seeks applications for a new Seed Grant Program.

Cal-BRAIN is a State of California program that will develop new technologies to revolutionize the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of brain disorders by vastly improving our ability to ascertain what goes on in the brain in much greater detail and at a much faster timescale than current technologies permit. As an initial demonstration of what might be accomplished with a larger-scale, multi-year grants program, one-year seed grants will be awarded in a competition open to eligible investigators at public and private research institutions in California.

Projects supported by this program will require expertise from multiple disciplines to develop innovative neurotechnologies.  Requests will be considered for total costs up to $120,000 inclusive of indirect costs which are capped at 25% of modified total direct costs.

For more information on application guidelines, click here.

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