State House News Service: Caucus Forms To Augment Life Sciences Push

May 08, 2024

By Alison Kuznitz, State House News Service (SHNS)</em)

A group gathers in Room 222 at the Statehouse, and room with a large half circle desk with chairs behind it as well as a build-in bookcase that spans a large portion of the wall. There are individuals standing and seated in the photo, including legislators and officials from MassBio and MLSC.
Members of the Life Sciences Caucus, including co-chairs Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (seated with Rep. Chynah Tyler), join officials from MassBio and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Industry for a meeting. (MassBio photo)

The following is an excerpt of an article published by the State House News Service on Wednesday, May 8, 2024:

A pair of lawmakers launched a Life Sciences Caucus Wednesday, adding another layer of Beacon Hill lobbying for the biopharma industry that appears likely to receive a third round of major financial support and tax incentives from the state under a proposal offered by Gov. Maura Healey.

The new group, a reboot of the former legislative Biotech Caucus, is co-chaired by Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Sen. Sal DiDomenico. Joining the caucus so far are Reps. John Moran, Kristin Kassner, James Arena-DeRosa, Chynah Tyler, and Steve Owens, a Ferrante aide said. DiDomenico’s office is welcoming senators to join the group, an aide to the Everett Democrat said.

Ferrante, a cancer patient, called the caucus kickoff “really important” as lawmakers weight Healey’s request to reauthorize the state life sciences initiative at $1 billion for another decade. The governor’s roughly $3.5 billion economic development bill was aired during a committee hearing Tuesday, and Healey discussed her plans to keep talent, including new graduates, in Massachusetts while tackling the state’s steep housing costs.

“This might be one of the most important pieces of legislation that we work on in terms of having the ability to save lives. I would not be here if it weren’t for life sciences 1.0, 2.0 and hopefully, now 3.0,” Ferrante said. “The governor has been using this catchphrase, ‘lengthening the lead.’ In my head when I hear lengthening the lead, I hear ‘lengthening the life’ because I see and I experience so many of the patients and their journeys, (and) what this industry can do to take someone who has a dire diagnosis or rare disease and give them hope for more time.”

“I appreciate the caucus is going to be leading the way in the House and Senate on this issue and trying to make sure that everyone in both chambers understands how important it is to our economy and to the state of Massachusetts overall,” DiDomenico said.

When Patrick signed the initial life sciences initiative in 2008, only seven out of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies had a presence in Massachusetts, compared to 18 today, said Ben Bradford, chief of external affairs at MassBio.

“I think we shouldn’t take for granted the role that government can play in growing an industry,” Bradford said, as he noted Healey’s bill also makes a similar big investment in the climate technology sector.

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