Last week, BioKansas and the Enterprise Center of Johnson County led a sizable delegation to Topeka for Bioscience & Innovation Day at the Capitol. The day featured small group meetings with legislators throughout the morning, a legislator lunch featuring talks from the ECJC, JCB Laboratories and KCAS Bioanalytical & Biomarker Services, and a short debrief session where attendees discussed takeaways and action items.
BioKansas would like to thank Shahira Stafford and Ron Seeber of the Kansas Agribusiness Retailer's Association for their help in coordinating the day's schedule, as well as Merck Animal Health and the ECJC, who helped to sponsor the Welcom Breakfast and Legislator Lunch, respectively. We also must acknowledge Melissa Roberts of the ECJC, who was key to the success in organizing and marketing the event. With her help, we were able to assemble an impressively large (more than 50 strong!) and diverse delegation who collectively educated legislators on the need for resources and continued support for innovators and innovative tech and life science companies in the state. Melissa has written up a great summary of the messaging we heard that day, which is included below.
Going forward, BioKansas will continue to engage with the legislature throughout the remainder of the session, and we will be in contact with our membership for additional follow up opportunities and/or when the need arises. If you are interested in joining the BioKansas Public Policy Committee, please let us know. The committee is integral in helping guide the organization’s positions on legislation and policy, and meets once a month while the legislature is in session.
Vice President, Strategy & Economic Development
Enterprise Center in Johnson County
This was the first time that we’ve collaborated with BioKansas on an event like this—it was a resounding success and collaboration strengthened both our messages. I’ve attached the leave-behind we used so that you can see what issues we promoted. We had almost 50 innovators in Topeka yesterday, meeting and greeting members of the legislature and speaking to a group over the lunch hour. In the morning, we were joined by Majority Leader Don Hineman, who shared his thoughts with us. Then, we broke out into small groups and met with 38 members of the legislature.
Here are some of the messages that came across loud and clear:
- The focus of the legislature right now is on the K-12 funding formula, which has large-scale implications on the state budget for years to come. There’s very little ability to talk about additional appropriations or workforce development issues until the next budget cycle, which will be the 2019 session (for FY20).
- There is a broad sense of optimism that the state is nearing the end of our financial crisis and that the legislature will be able to “get back to governing” again towards the end of the session. Many in leadership agreed that this is a great time to begin the conversation about what future appropriations to support this community could look like, and expressed an interest in being involved in that process.
- We were able to identify some legislative advocates who will be part of future efforts to include innovation and entrepreneurship funding priorities in the FY20 budget, many of whom have expressed interest in participating in an Innovation Caucus. We are working to organize a future meeting now, and I’ll keep you in the loop as that effort progresses.
- All legislators who were in office two years ago immediately recognized Angel Tax Credits as the policy that they had last heard from this community about. They were all quick to bring that up, which is a great indicator that our messaging has made an impact in the past.
- All legislators we talked to recognized that Commerce is desperately underfunded, and that resource crunch is impacting incentives like the Angel Investment Tax Credit. We will continue to stay in close contact with Commerce to understand how we can best help them communicate changes in the implementation of this credit to entrepreneurs and investors.
Please feel free to get in touch with any questions, thoughts or suggestions for next year!