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Walkin' the Tech Talkin' Gov Walk

April 17, 2006

Over the past six years, SSTI has dedicated a portion of the Digest to coverage on the legislative priorities of governors across the nation through the Tech Talkin' Govs series. As they say, talk is cheap. So this year, we are extending that coverage to track how the Governors' proposals fared in the respective legislative sessions. In the coming months, as many sessions come to an end, SSTI will take a look back on the governors' state-of-the-state, budget, and inaugural addresses and report the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2006 legislative decisions.

Georgia

During his State-of-the State Address (see the Jan. 16, 2006 issue of the Digest), Gov. Sonny Perdue proposed several key initiatives to support tech-based economic development. The legislature approved several of the governor's requests for funding, including:

  • $5 million for a Life Sciences Facilities Fund;
  • $5 million for the ATDC Seed Capital Fund;
  • $4.7 million to the GRA Alliance VentureLab and Patent Fund and funding for two eminent scholars;
  • $4 million for a grant program to support rural broadband access ($1 million less than the governor's request); and
  • $1 million in bioscience funding.

In addition, the legislature approved $19 million in bond projects for the Department of Economic Development. H.B.1027 is available through the Georgia General Assembly.

Maryland

The legislature approved and Gov. Robert Erlich signed into law the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act of 2006, which authorizes $15 million for research in fiscal year 2007. Funding will be allocated by an independent commission through the Maryland Technology Development Corporation. The commission will administer grants to universities and private sector researchers. According to the governor's press office, the governor proposed in his budget $20 million for stem cell research (see the Jan. 30, 2006 issue of the Digest) and $13.5 million to help construct a new Center for Regenerative Research at the University of Maryland. However, the legislature eliminated all funding for the research facility and cut $5 million from research.

New Mexico

Lawmakers approved $1.4 million for the New Mexico Economic Development Partnership, which focuses on incentives for six industries, including aerospace, agribusiness, distilling and brewing, manufacturing, renewable energy, and technology. Additionally, the legislature provided $500,000 for the business incubator development program, which is contingent on a match of 40 percent from rural communities and 50 percent from urban communities.

The proposed Advanced Energy Products Manufacturer's Tax Credit (see the Jan. 23, 2006 issue of the Digest) was rolled into the omnibus bill, H.B. 82, and was still in conference committee when the session ended. The bill would have provided a 5 percent credit of the value of manufacturing equipment purchased for manufacturing facilities making the components or systems for renewable energy vehicles, fuel cells, clean coal technology, or renewable energy systems.

The General Appropriations Act of 2006 is available through the New Mexico Legislature.

South Dakota

The legislature approved $3.4 million for the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the full request of Gov. Mike Rounds. The Division of Research and Commerce will receive $4 million, slightly less than the governor's recommended $4.8 million. The legislature also approved $13.2 million for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and $974,204 for South Dakota Opportunity Scholarships. S.B. 209 is available through the South Dakota Legislature.

Another victory for Gov. Rounds is the passage of legislation to establish a higher education campus in northwest Sioux Falls. During his State-of-the State Address, the governor stated that he would introduce legislation to meet the challenge of creating a more highly educated workforce and bring the higher paying jobs of the knowledge economy to South Dakota. H.B.1238 allows the Board of Regents to use a $5.8 million grant to purchase 263 acres of land currently owned by the state Transportation Department to build a campus. A second bill, H.B. 1244, provides $8 million to construct a classroom building to be shared by all six public universities.

The legislature did not fully fund the governor's $13 million request to implement a statewide laptop program over a three-year period (see the Jan. 16, 2006 issue of the Digest). According to the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, a compromise was reached to allow up to 10,000 students to receive laptops this fall. The Department of Education is accepting applications, and approximately 40-50 schools will be allowed to participate.

Utah

The legislature passed a bill to establish and issue bonds for one of Gov. Jon Hunstman Jr.'s major economic development priorities, Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) (see the Dec. 12, 2005 issue of the Digest). S.B. 75 establishes a process for the USTAR initiative and authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for constructing research buildings at Utah State University and the University of Utah. The bill also appropriates $50 million in FY07 to the USTAR governing authority for construction, administration and operations.

Wyoming

Gov. Dave Freudenthal announced during his State-of-the-State Address (see the Feb. 20, 2006 issue of the Digest) that he would introduce legislation to jump-start and fully fund by the end of the biennium the endowed shares of the Hathaway Student Scholarship Fund (see the March 14, 2005 issue of the Digest). The legislature approved and the governor signed on March 15 the "emergency rules" in order to provide for the immediate implementation of the program.

Georgia