2019 State Policy Recap

The state legislature adjourned on time on April 28th (with 2 minutes to spare) for the first time in many years. When the final gavel came down, all of the major elements of Life Science Washington’s legislative agenda had been enacted! Our agenda included investments in workforce, research, growing the life science ecosystem, university research facilities, transportation, as well as managing drug pricing legislation.Life Science Washington’s top priority this year was to expand the state’s life science workforce. So, we are pleased to report that UW-Bothell received $76 million to build a new STEM Building along with funding to immediately begin adding new degree capacity to support the life sciences. Over time, this will allow UW-Bothell to add an additional 200 STEM and life science focused enrollments. And, WSU’s medical school received full funding to add 20 additional enrollments this fall.

Life Science Washington’s government affairs team with Governor Inslee for the signing of the Life Science Discovery Fund bill along with bill sponsors Rep. Slatter, Sen. Frockt, and Sen. Brown While we had a very successful year, it came at a price. The new, 2-year state operating budget came in at $52.4 billion, which is a 17.5% increase over the current two-year budget. $830 billion in new spending will be paid for by a series of new taxes including: a 20% surcharge on B&O taxes, a restructuring of real estate taxes, a new tax on vapor products, and significantly higher taxes on big banks (the capital gains tax supported by the House did not pass).

Below is a summary of key legislation and investments that the legislature made this year to support the state’s life science sector.

  • $76 million for a new STEM education building at UW-Bothell in partnership with Cascadia College.
  • $1.5 million in the 2019-21 biennium for UW-Bothell to add degree capacity to support the life science cluster and Biomedical Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ). Over time, this will add over 200 enrollment slots at UW-Bothell.
  • $14.4 million in the operating budget for WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. This includes funding for 20 additional enrollments this fall.
  • $500,000 to support a new community college biomanufacturing training center developed in partnership with AGC Biologics and Sen. Palumbo.
  • Career Connect Washington received $5 million to work with regional partners (such as Life Science Washington) to increase student awareness of industries and career opportunities in their region.
  • Life Science Discovery Fund Bill Passed — SB5490 sponsored by Sen. Frockt (and HB1335 sponsored by Rep. Slatter) transfers the responsibility to collect and reinvest the funds owed to the Life Science Discovery Fund to the Commerce Department so that the funds can continue to be used for their original purpose—to support growing the life science ecosystem in Washington State, rather than going to the general fund.
  • Spokane’s Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA) Reauthorized — HSSA is a model program that supports the growth of a nationally competitive health sciences cluster in Spokane. SB5596 sponsored by Sens. Holy and Billig reauthorizes the HSSA until 2038.
  • The Life Science Sector Lead position at the Commerce Department was fully funded.
  • Additionally, the Commerce Department provided $1 million to organizations that will investment in life science companies and to provide commercialization support.
  • The Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Fund received $6 million for the biennium, plus 50% of revenue generated from a newly established tax of vapor products up to $10 million per year.
  • The following life science facilities throughout the state received capital funding:
    • UW-Bothell/Cascadia College STEM education facility (Bothell) — $76 million
    • UW Health Sciences Education Building (Seattle) — $60 million
    • WSU Global Animal Health II Building (Pullman) — $36 million
    • WSU Biomedical and Health Sciences Building (Spokane) — $500,000 for predesign
    • WSU Academic Building, including Life Sciences (Tri-Cities) — $27 million

Due to crippling congestion around the Bothell/Canyon Park life sciences cluster, we supported critical transportation investments in that region this year. The focused efforts by city leaders and local legislators, the legislature funded $600 million for capacity increases on I-405, which means that construction should be complete around the 2024 inception of Bus Rapid Transit. Toll authorization was passed throughout the entire corridor and bonding was approved for up to $1.1 billion. Also funded were projects on south 405 and 167.

The I-405 north (Bothell & Canyon Park) projects will:

  • Widen I-405 to extend the dual express toll lanes from the 522 interchange to 527;
  • Construct a new interchange at 522 with direct access ramps; and
  • Construct direct access ramps to express toll lanes at 527.


After successfully fighting off poorly conceived drug pricing bills for several years, it was clear that a bill drug pricing bill would move this year. So, we worked with BIO and our legislative champions to focus the bill on reporting requirements that are already required in other states and to make sure that unworkable provisions were not included. BIO took the lead in managing the negotiations and they succeeded on both fronts. Importantly, the bill includes increased transparency for all parties in the prescription drug supply chain: carriers, pharmacy benefits managers, manufacturers, and pharmacy services administrative organizations. A complete summary of E2SHB 1224 can be found here.

For more information please contact:

Marc Cummings, Vice President, Public Policy, 206-321-4679 or marc@lifesciencewa.org

Becky Bogard, Life Science Washington (LSW) Lobbyist, 206-979-0326 or becky@bogardjohnson.com

Tim Boyd, LSW Lobbyist, 360-791-6100 or thetsbgroup@comcast.net

Melissa Johnson, LSW Lobbyist (healthcare), 360-280-6429 melissa@bogardjohnson.com