The 2023 state legislative session is a “long,” 105-day session during which legislators will pass the 2023-25 state budgets and pursue new state policy.
Many issues affecting the life sciences industry that Life Science Washington (LSW) has taken positions on or monitored in recent years remain under consideration and are expected to come up for debate again this session. LSW priority issues for the 2023 state legislative session include:
State Budget Priorities
- Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE Fund)—The CARE Fund is a public-private partnership that provides state investment to fund cancer research in Washington state. The Governor’s budget includes $20.6 million for the CARE fund. LSW supports fully funding the program.
- LSW is supporting our state’s public universities’ funding requests related to the life sciences including:
- Additional enrollment slots in information, computing, and engineering at all three University of Washington campuses—$18.224 million
- A new academic program in public health at WSU Pullman—$2.5 million
- A process to renovate and replace aging science facilities at WSU Pullman—$22 million
- Design and site preparation of a new WSU Spokane Team Health Education building—$7 million
Policy Bills We Are Monitoring
Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB)
HB 1269 — Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane)
Last year, LSW and our partners worked with the legislature to amend a bill that created a Prescription Drug Affordability Board so that it did not target innovative drugs being developed by local companies and research institutions. Following those good-faith negotiations just last year, the HCA now seeks to expand the program’s authority and include rare disease drug that were explicitly exempted by the legislature, before the current policy has even taken effect. Expanding this untested program could reduce access to drugs and hurt our state’s ability to be a leader in research and development of new medications. We will oppose any change to this program. OPPOSE.
Battery Take-Back Program
SB 5144 — Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell)
Last year, the Washington State House considered a bill to require producers of certain batteries to participate in a stewardship organization that plans and provides battery collection and disposal. We are working with AdvaMed to make sure medical devices and associated companies are exempted from any legislation introduced in 2023. MONITOR.
Biomarker Testing Coverage
HB 1450 — Rep. Monica Stonier (R-Vancouver)
Biomarker testing can help patients identify cancer early when it’s easier to treat as well as help them identify the most effective treatment options. Biomarker prior-authorization legislation was previously signed into law, but it did not address coverage. While access to testing is critical, health plan coverage must be addressed to break down the biggest obstacle to care. The American Cancer Society is working to pass legislation to guarantee coverage and LSW will support their efforts. LSW has member companies that are involved in both diagnostics and therapies related to biomarkers and other advanced precision cancer care, so this is of particular interest to our members. SUPPORT.
Career Connect Washington
LSW is proud to serve as the Life Sciences Sector Lead for Career Connect Washington (CCW), a partnership between the state government, business, labor, education, and community leaders to create work-based and academic programs for young people to explore career paths and earn money or college credit. This year, CCW is seeking legislation to create an Office of Career Connect Washington within the Washington Student Achievement Council. This will help ensure continuity of the program past the current governor and enhance its mission by adding more members to the cross-agency workgroup, strengthening industry partnerships, and ensuring accountability. SUPPORT.
HB 1155 — Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue)
This has long been a hot topic, and, so far, the legislature has been unable to find agreement on the highly complex issue. Well intentioned data privacy legislation can cause problems for healthcare providers, conducting clinical trials, and developing new therapies if it is not aligned with pre-existing Federal HIPPA data privacy standards. Language LSW introduced to exempt health information that is already covered under Federal HIPPA has since become a model for other states. This year, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has requested legislation to protect health data privacy and reproductive rights. It remains unclear if the legislature will make another attempt at broader consumer data privacy regulations. LSW will work to ensure that any data privacy bill includes the same health care data exemptions that were included in previous legislation. MONITOR.
Right to Repair
HB 1392 — Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac)
SB 5654 — Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell)
Legislation focused on allowing consumers to go to local repair shops rather than the manufacturer of personal electronic devices can help bridge the digital divide but fixing a cracked phone screen or laptop is much different than fixing a medical device. Because of the implications for health and safety, we have work with the legislature to include a medical device exemption in previous “right to repair” legislation and will work to make sure the exemption is included in any bills that are introduced in 2023. MONITOR.
Rare Disease Advisory Council
SB 5097 — Sen. Jeff Holy (R-Spokane)
We have been proud to support the work of local parent advocates who founded the NW Rare Disease Coalition, plus partners like Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Institute and the University of Washington, and their work to improve outcomes for families impacted by rare disease. Legislation passed the Senate in 2022 to create a rare disease advisory council that would help bridge the gaps in health care access, early diagnosis, and resources supports for families managing rare disease; make recommendations on the implementation of a continuing rare disease medical education program; and develop effective strategies to raise public awareness. It would give voice to a broad representation of stakeholders to serve as a conduit to legislators who are contemplating policy initiatives that might impact the community. Legislation will be reintroduced in 2023 that provides two council positions to representatives from the life sciences industry focusing on developing therapeutic products for rare disease patients, research efforts related to those endeavors, or have a demonstrable understanding of the path to commercialization of such products. SUPPORT.
Local Legislation We Are Monitoring
Seattle Building Emissions Performance Standards
The City of Seattle is developing a policy and Seattle City Council legislation to transition larger buildings to cleaner energy. The proposal will require building owners to collect and verify energy and emissions data, meet greenhouse gas intensity targets or alternative compliance options, and achieve net-zero emissions by the final compliance cycle. The Office of Sustainability & Environment is anticipated to complete its draft of the policy before the end of 2022, with the Seattle City Council legislative process commencing in Q1 2023. Since many life science facilities have unique operating and energy requirements, Life Science Washington will monitor this process and engage as necessary to ensure that the life science industry can participate in the clean energy transition in a meaningful yet realistic manner considering our industry’s unique energy needs. MONITOR.