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Legislative & Federal News for April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017

U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) sent a letter requesting a 4 percent increase in appropriations for the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The White House announced an executive order to review the H-1B visa program, and the accompanying language suggests the administration’s interest in reforms to emphasize applicant skills and wages.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney lifted the federal hiring freeze last week and asked agencies to plan for workforce reductions.

Government innovation offices popping up

March 30, 2017

Government offices focused on innovation have been around for several years, yet some states and even the federal government are seeking new ways to incorporate the concept into their offices. This week the White House announced a new Office of American Innovation, while earlier this month Rhode Island used its Office of Innovation to launch a new effort called the Government Innovation League, and in January Ohio’s governor proposed funding a new state office focused on innovation, emerging technologies and their job-creation potential.

White House National S&T Council Addresses Future Artificial Intelligence R&D, Public Policy

October 27, 2016

As artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to become an increasingly large contributor to future U.S. economic growth, policymakers must be thoughtful about the technology’s implications related to federal R&D strategy, societal benefits, and public policy, according to two recently released reports authored by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Cancer Moonshot Requires Funding Infusion

October 20, 2016

While progress has been made, challenges remain in the goal to advance cancer research, according to the “Cancer Moonshot” report Vice President Joe Biden delivered to the White House on Monday. The “Cancer Moonshot” is the current administration’s effort to accelerate 10 years’ worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment into just five. The Washington Post detailed remaining challenges, including a lack of coordination among researchers, outdated funding cultures and slow dissemination of information regarding new treatments. The White House has urged Congress to approve $1 billion in funding for the effort, along with money for other health initiatives and the National Institutes of Health.

White House Announces Proposed New Rule for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

September 08, 2016

Immigrant entrepreneurs would be allowed to remain in the United States for an initial period of up to two years, and, conditional upon meeting certain benchmarks, could potentially stay in the country for one additional period of up to three years under a newly proposed rule by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As part of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which is now open for a 45-day comment period, certain international entrepreneurs would have an opportunity to start or scale their businesses in the United States. In an official blog post by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation Tom Kalil and Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship Doug Rand, the authors note that the new reform would propose clear criteria to identify those entrepreneurs with the potential to provide significant public benefit to the United States. Evaluating entrepreneurs on a case-by-case basis, the proposed rule would consider factors such as: the entrepreneur’s ownership stake (at least 15 percent) and leadership role in the startup; the growth potential of the startup; competitive research grants of at least $100,000 from federal, state, and local government agencies provided to the firm; and the investment of at least $345,000 by qualified American investors.

White House: Student Loan-Debt Helps U.S. Economy

July 28, 2016

A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers provides a broad overview of student loan-debt in the United States and yields some potentially surprising conclusions: while the $1.3 trillion in total student-loan debt in the U.S. may seem like a staggering amount, the authors of Investing in Higher Education: Benefits, Challenges, and the State of Student Loan Debt contend that this is helping, not hurting the nation’s economy. The authors posit that college is best viewed as an investment that typically yields a high return, even with the high upfront costs.

White House, Civic Partnerships Celebrate National Week of Making

June 23, 2016

This week, the White House is celebrating its third National Week of Making – an important part of its Nation of Makers initiative that seeks to expand opportunities for students and adults to engage with the maker movement. In addition to numerous commitments and announcements made at federal agencies, several other projects rooted in strong partnerships were announced.

Winner of New Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, New MII Competitions Announced

June 23, 2016

President Obama announced  the creation of the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (Smart MII) – a $140 million public-private partnership to develop smart sensors for use in advanced manufacturing. Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) – a consortium of nearly 200 partners from academia and industry as well as nonprofit organizations – will lead the Smart MII.

White House Rolls Out Plans to Connect Young Americans With High-Skill Jobs

February 04, 2016

The White House recently released a preview of its plans to build a stronger pipeline between K-12 education and high-skill employment. The President’s Computer Science for All Initiative would boost investment in states, districts and teacher training to improve computer science (CS) education for K-12 students. The three-year, $4 billion plan would also call on multiple federal agencies to focus investments on improving CS skills.

President Turns Spotlight on Innovation in Final State of the Union

January 15, 2016

In the days leading up to his final State of the Union Address, President Obama hinted that in lieu of the usual wishlist of policy proposals he would lay out his take on the issues that will define American public life over the next few decades. These issues took the form of four big questions, the first two of which directly relate to the work of tech-based economic development professionals.

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