Weekly Policy Update: CBSA Takes Positions on New State Legislation
By: Colorado BioScience Association Date: 02/26/2021
The Colorado state legislature returned on February 16th to continue the 2021 session, and there have already been almost 300 bills introduced so far. CBSA’s Policy + Advocacy team has been hard at work, reviewing the bills that impact our life sciences community and taking positions to advance our priorities. Below is a summary of CBSA’s positions to date.
Funding for Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program: CBSA supports Senate Bill 42, which includes a one-time infusion of $10 million for the Advanced Industries (AI) Accelerator Grant Program. The AI Grant Program provides a critical source of non-dilutive funding for our life sciences companies + institutions and has proven to be a strong economic driver for Colorado. Last year, the state legislature faced a $3.3 billion budget shortfall and had to make budget cuts across many departments and programs. CBSA + our members worked tirelessly to protect the AI Grant Program and as a result, significant program funding was preserved, but there were some cuts to the program funding. This one-time appropriation will help to back fill those cuts. Senate Bill 42 has already passed the Senate and will be considered by the House next week.
Liability Protections for Businesses: CBSA supports Senate Bill 80, which provides liability protections for businesses that comply with public health guidelines related to COVID-19. Our members understand the importance of following public health guidelines to protect the health of their employees and customers, but there are concerns about increased liability. This bill offers reasonable protections for businesses, as long as they are doing everything they can to ensure safe operations during the pandemic. This bill was referred to the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee, and we are still waiting for a hearing to be scheduled.
Therapeutic Substitution: CBSA is working to amend Senate Bill 94, which implements recommendations contained in the 2020 sunset report on the state board of pharmacy and its regulation of pharmacy practice, including changes related to therapeutic substitution. CBSA and our members have multiple concerns with the section of the bill addressing therapeutic substitution. First, it allows a pharmacist to substitute a drug in the same therapeutic class that may not be therapeutically equivalent, without consulting the prescriber. Second, it allows a pharmacist to substitute a non-interchangeable biosimilar for a prescribed biologic. CBSA is working closely with our industry partners to address these problems in the bill.
Career Connected Learning: CBSA supports Senate Bill 106, which creates greater flexibility around requirements that students learn within the walls of the traditional classroom, allowing a wider range of career and postsecondary opportunities. The bill also creates a 4th year innovation pilot program that would provide funding for eligible students who complete high school in three years to take full-time college courses or participate in career training during their 4th year of high school. This bill advances CBSA’s workforce development priorities by expanding career connected learning and making it easier for students to take advantage of opportunities like apprenticeships, internships and other training programs.
As the session continues, CBSA will advocate for our members and engage on legislation impacting our life sciences ecosystem. We will provide regular updates to our community, but if you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact CBSA vice president Emily Roberts.