Public Policy News

Biocom to Host Water Workshop on Drought Conditions and Water Access

California is in its fourth dry year with no relief in sight. Last week, Governor Brown announced plans for a $1 billion drought-relief package, and state water officials introduced water-saving measures for homes and businesses. Rules for businesses include sharp restrictions on landscape watering and orders to restaurants not to serve water to customers unless asked.

Additionally, in February, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) announced that it is considering scenarios that could require the agency to limit deliveries and prompt mandatory rationing throughout Southern California this summer. The MWD board is expected to consider a supply allocation in April, with possible cutbacks to take effect July 1.

Biocom was founded 20 years ago on the issue of access to water. Our members depend on a reliable, constant source of water for everyday business activities; interruption of these supplies could mean millions of dollars lost in delicate research. Biocom has been a longtime supporter of diversification of the region’s water supply as a logical alternative to water importation.

On April 22nd, Biocom will host a Water Workshop to address concerns about drought conditions and water access, and also to discuss ways our industry uses and conserves water. Workshop speakers include representatives from MWD, San Diego County Water Authority, City of San Diego, and Water Works, Inc. Please join us for this important conversation by registering here.

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House and Senate Unveil FY 2016 Budgets

Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees unveiled their $1.017 trillion budget blueprints for FY 2016 (H Con Res 27 and S Con Res 11 respectively). Both resolutions adhere to the statutory caps ($523 billion for defense and $493.5 billion for non-defense programs in FY 2016), created by the 2011 Budget Control Act, also known as "sequestration". In his budget, President Obama had proposed to repeal the sequester in FY2016 by closing tax loopholes and trimming certain discretionary and mandatory programs.

The resolutions also recommend funding levels for FY2016-FY2025, with the goal of reducing federal spending by $5.5 trillion over the next 10 years. While the blueprints do not set funding levels for specific agencies, they recognize the important role of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The resolutions also call for a repeal of the medical device excise tax, which Biocom has consistently advocated for.

Defense spending remains a contentious issue as both blueprints would increase spending above the defense cap with little to no offset, by allowing additional funding ($96 billion) using the Overseas Contingency Operations account for war funding.

In addition, Democrats oppose many elements of the resolutions, including repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and restructuring Medicare, Medicaid, and other mandatory spending programs, and will offer substitute proposals. President Obama has criticized several aspects of the blueprints and is expected to broadly oppose them (budget resolutions are not presented to the President for his signature).

Both the House and the Senate are considering their respective budget resolutions this week.

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Water Board Enacts Emergency Regs; Governor Announces $1 bil Relief Package

Responding to California's worsening drought situation, the California State Water Resources Control Board announced new emergency regulations last week and the Governor and legislative leadership from both parties announced a $1 billion dollar emergency drought legislative package.

Relative to impact on the life science industry, the CWRCB emergency regulations mostly address non-commercial uses of water, except for banning operation of fountains or water features that do not use re-circulated water, and banning the irrigation of turf or ornamental landscape within 48hrs of precipitation. The media release on the emergency regulations can be found here.

In addition, Governor Brown and the legislative leaders of both parties in both chambers of the Legislature came together last Friday to announce their response to the drought. The $ 1 billion emergency package "accelerates $128 million in expenditures from the Governor's budget to provide direct assistance to workers and communities impacted by drought and to implement the Water Action Plan. It also includes $272 million in Proposition 1 Water Bond funding for safe drinking water and water recycling and accelerates $660 million from the Proposition 1E for flood protection in urban and rural areas." The full release on the proposal can be found here.

Biocom will continue to monitor proposals aimed at addressing the drought, and in particular any measures that may affect the reliability of the water supply for essential business functions to Biocom member companies. Please keep an eye on the BCQ for further reports.

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Biocom Meets with NIH Officials in Washington DC

Last week, Biocom's President and CEO, Joe Panetta, attended a day of meetings at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and met with senior officials in several Institutes and Offices, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the Office of Extramural Research, and the Office of Outreach.

Discussions focused on NIH funding in Southern California, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, other grant awards and trainings, funding accessibility for young scientists, valley of death, translational science, sequestration, federal NIH policy, precision medicine, collaboration with industry, and workshop and webinar opportunities, among others.

Biocom has consistently worked to support basic research and funding opportunities for early-stage companies and will continue to ensure that companies in Southern California have access to the best resources available.

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From the FDA Voice: FDA Continues to Lead in Precision Medicine

Posted on March 23, 2015 by FDA Voice   

By: Janet Woodcock, M.D.

Everyone knows that different people don’t respond the same way to medications, and that “one size does not fit all.” FDA has been pushing for targeted drug therapies, sometimes called “personalized medicines” or “precision medicines,” for a long time.

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