legislation

Ballot measures affecting state economies face varied results

Voters across the country faced a number of ballot measures in Tuesday’s election that could in turn affect the innovation economy in their states. Bond issues affecting higher education were approved in New Mexico and Rhode Island, while the vote is still being counted in Arizona, which considered a measure that would allow more aid for non-citizens of the state pursuing higher education. Massachusetts voters narrowly passed the millionaires tax on the ballot there, with education and transportation reaping the increase in revenues, while California voters turned down a similar tax that would have benefitted zero-emission vehicle subsidies and wildfire suppression. The environment was a winner in a New York $4.2 billion bond proposal as was broadband expansion in Alabama. Several states considered changes to the rules affecting their legislators, elections and ballot initiatives with mixed results.   Read more below for a breakdown of results on ballot initiatives that could affect states’ innovation economies.

Congress advances three-year SBIR/STTR reauthorization

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to extend the SBIR, STTR and related pilot programs through Sept. 30, 2025. The House is expected to act on the legislation next week, just ahead of the current expiration at the end of this month. In addition to reauthorizing the programs, the legislation makes changes to performance standards for companies with numerous awards, foreign risk management, topic solicitations, and requires several new reports by SBA and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

New Office on Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation established to coordinate historic initiative

The White House announced a new Office on Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation to coordinate the policymaking process for the energy and infrastructure provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, legislation that has been called the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history. The executive order also established a National Climate Task Force that will be chaired by the head of the new office and consist of the heads of a number of agencies, offices and departments.

Efforts underway in the states to capitalize on CHIPS funding

With President Biden’s signing the CHIPS and Science Act on Aug. 9, states and universities are already making plans to build on the funding opportunities present in the legislation. For example, a group of Midwest colleges and universities has formed a new coalition to support the advanced semiconductor and microelectronics industry as Intel begins construction on a microchip plant in Ohio, and multiple states are positioning themselves to compete for semiconductor manufacturing incentives — as encouraged by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. This article summarizes these early state actions (for recent federal activity, see SSTI’s coverage).

Congressional inaction threatens SBIR program

The federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, providing nearly $4 billion in technology research and development funding, expire — in just six weeks — on Sept. 30. Unlike many federal programs that regularly operate beyond the end of their authorization, there is no direct SBIR appropriation that will ensure the program continues as-is without congressional action. Instead, SBIR would be on an agency-by-agency basis. The Department of Defense already announced it “cannot continue funding new or ongoing” projects without reauthorization, and the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) has warned that even the agencies that carry on may have challenges with SBIR data rights (a non-disclosure obligation on the federal government for certain information developed under an SBIR/STTR award) and post-award (i.e., Phase III) purchases of SBIR-developed technologies by federal agencies.

Five things to know about the Inflation Reduction Act

President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act, a $740-billion bill that largely focuses on clean energy and climate resiliency, deficit reduction and health care, funded through tax changes. Unlike the initial proposals for a reconciliation spending package, this legislation provides little spending that will directly affect tech-based economic development strategies, although its climate provisions will spur significant growth opportunities for cleantech. There are multiple provisions and opportunities included in the act that are important for regions to understand.

Senate Dems propose increased innovation funding for FY 2023

With the fiscal year coming to a close and the U.S. Senate having yet to advance any appropriations bills for the next year, the Senate Democrats have released their proposals for FY 2023 funding levels. Due to the potential for substantial changes when the final FY 2023 budget is passed, this article only covers specific funding levels that are a high priority for the tech-based economic development (TBED) field. Funding levels from the House Committee on Appropriations for FY 2023 and FY 2022 enacted amounts also are provided in parentheses for comparison purposes.

Congress passes modified competitiveness legislation

This week, Congress approved a new version of legislation to incentivize semiconductor manufacturing facilities, create a Regional Technology Hubs program, and reauthorize many science-related agencies. The Senate passed the bill on the 27th, and the House passed the legislation a day later.

New York State legislation would curb new crypto mining operations; bills await governor’s action

Since the inception of cryptocurrency mining over a decade ago, the state of New York has become a hotspot for the digital coins, encompassing 19.9 percent of the total U.S. hashrate, or the collective computing power of miners. However, concerns over the environmental impacts of, and high electricity demands for, these mining operations have been increasingly thrust into the spotlight. With the goal of addressing the above, two highly contested bills have been making their way through the legislative system in New York.

Massive House innovation bill would fund semiconductor incentives, create tech hubs, NSF directorate

Earlier this week, House Democrats released its version of a wide-ranging innovation policy bill. This legislation includes authorization for Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs — a program SSTI’s Dan Berglund testified about before the House science committee last June. The bill also would establish a new directorate within the National Science Foundation (NSF), reauthorize the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy (Energy) Office of Science, and fund incentives for U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturing.

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