legislation

Congress begins work on $3.5 trillion human infrastructure, includes $45 billion for House science to allocate

Early on Wednesday, the Senate passed a budget resolution that will serve as the framework for a human infrastructure bill. The current proposal is for $3.5 trillion in spending. This legislation, should it pass, seems likely to include substantial funding for regional innovation. More specifically, the Senate’s plans indicate that funding would support Regional Technology Hubs and other components of the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). 

Regional innovation highlights in infrastructure bill

Editor’s note: The Senate passed the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act on Aug. 10, 2021. This article has been updated to reflect the final amendments and new information on next steps for the legislation.

House committee advances $7 billion regional tech hubs legislation

Earlier this week, the House science committee advanced a series of technology-focused bills, including a $7 billion authorization of regional technology hubs. This legislation completes the committee’s work to produce a companion to the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. The House and Senate legislation are not identical, however, and so the chambers will need to bring their versions into alignment. Among the key differences are that the House authorizes less funding for the program but also creates a new regional clean energy innovation program.

House committee backs new manufacturing office, increases for FAST and clusters

The House Committee on Appropriations advanced its first FY 2022 funding bills this week. Included in the financial services bill was $10 million for each of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s three main innovation programs: Regional Innovation Clusters, Federal and State Technology Partnership (FAST), and Growth Accelerators Fund Competition. The bill also includes language supporting a new White House Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation to coordinate cross-agency policy and programs.

Senate approves new $10 billion program for regional technology hubs

This week, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, a legislative package that includes the Endless Frontier Act. The tech-based economic development community should be excited about many initiatives authorized in the bill, including $10 billion for regional technology hubs, $100 billion in new R&D-related activities, and an expansion of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program. The bill also provides $50 billion in appropriations for semiconductor research, and includes multiple R&D policy bills. SSTI worked with Sen. Chuck Schumer, the legislation’s lead sponsor, and other Senate offices to strengthen the proposals, The Senate action is just the first step in the legislative process, as the House is beginning to work through its own proposals.

Alabama governor signs measures to boost state’s innovation economy with $9M in appropriations

Alabama is the latest state that is embracing innovation as a way to grow the state’s economy. On May 19, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation that grew from two top priority measures of the Alabama Innovation Commission — proposals discussed between SSTI and commission members in a meeting earlier this year. House Bill (HB) 540 establishes the Alabama Innovation Corporation, a public-private partnership that will serve as a catalyst for the state’s growing innovation economy, and HB 609 creates the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program that will promote research and development in the state. Both measures were passed unanimously in the state’s recently concluded legislative session. The initiatives are funded through the Education Trust Fund Budget (enacted May 11), with the Alabama Innovation Corporation receiving $4 million in funding, and the Alabama Matching Grant Program appropriated $5 million.

Endless Frontier Act would expand federal science, innovation competitiveness

Last week, a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators reintroduced the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that would authorize more than $112 billion over five years for new research and commercialization activities within the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Commerce. This proposal would establish multiple tools at each agency to support regional innovation economies. Sen. Schumer (D-NY), the driving force behind the legislation and the Senate majority leader, is looking to advance the bill through the Senate quickly, but is being slowed down despite bipartisan support.

$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act boosts help for innovation

The American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion spending package to address the ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19, was signed into law today. The legislation includes several initiatives that could strengthen regional innovation economies. Most notable among these is the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), $3 billion for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and $350 billion for state and local government relief.

U.S. House passes apprenticeship bill

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives again passed the National Apprenticeships Act, which is intended to increase the diversity of occupations and people covered by approved apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeships receive substantial attention for their track record of strong economic impacts when measured at the state level, and the bill also hopes to improve the ability to track impacts across the country.

Congress reveals COVID bill with $10 billion SSBCI

The U.S. House of Representatives is working through the coronavirus relief package in committee markups this week, and there are several provisions that could have a significant impact for regional innovation economies. The highest-profile of these is $10 billion for a new State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program. Reauthorizing this program has been a top priority for SSTI's Innovation Advocacy Council, as SSBCI was one of the federal government’s only sources of funding for equity investments in the past two decades.

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