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Utah Life Sciences News & Events

Still on the Hill…

February 16, 2023

BioUtah continues to monitor issues of importance to our industry and engage with legislators on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Kelvyn Cullimore, President and CEO of BioUtah, has provided input on a number of bills.

Here’s a brief update:

  • HB042 Technology Commercialization Amendments sponsored by Representative Jeff Stenquist and Senator Ann Millner creates the Utah Innovation Lab and the Utah Innovation Fund. BioUtah has testified in both the House and Senate in favor of the legislation. The Utah Innovation Fund would be a non-profit LLC into which the State would inject $15M for the purpose of translating early stage research from institutions of higher learning in the state into an investable concept. It will be affiliated with the Utah Innovation Lab which will be located at the Point of the Mountain Innovation Center. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 51-20 margin and is now awaiting a final vote in the Senate where it is expected to pass.
  • HB407 Incentive Amendments sponsored by Representative Kay Christofferson proposed that any company seeking to claim an R&D tax credit in any filing year be required to pre-certify for that credit by submitting detailed documentation to the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity supporting their calculation, having the calculation and receipts reviewed by GOEO, and resulting in GOEO providing the applicant a certificate for the amount they deemed qualified for the credit. That amount would also be posted on a state website naming the amount and the company receiving the credit. BioUtah and others negotiated with the sponsor explaining the detrimental effects of the bill and the lack of supporting data that would indicate such a bill was warranted. The sponsor this week amended the bill to delete the R&D tax credit precertificaiton requirements and is instead pursuing a study bill to examine the amount of adjustments that are typically made by state auditors to claims for R&D tax credits.
  • SB184 Prescription Cost Amendments sponsored by Senator Curt Bramble and Representative Karianne Lisonbee bans what is known as co-pay accumulators. Co-pay accumulators are programs instituted by some insurance companies through which payments made by third parties on behalf of an enrollee to cover their deductible or co-pay are diverted to reduce overall costs for the insurance company. In such instances the patient is still required to pay their co-pay despite the aid received by a third party. Insurance companies justify the diversion on the premise that the third party payment, typically made by the manufacturer of the drug being taken, is essentially a discount of the drug, and should not be a direct benefit to the enrollee. BioUtah has joined with patient groups and pharmaceutical companies in supporting this legislation to assure that payments made on behalf of a specific patient are credited to that patient to assist them in staying on the drug dosages prescribed by doctors for that patient. The bill does not prohibit insurance companies from requiring step therapies wherein the enrollee is required to use less expensive alternatives that may be equally effective. 15 states have passed such legislation and according to a study by the AIDS Foundation, the changes have NOT contributed to increased costs of insurance. The bill has passed the Senate on a 21-2 vote and is now awaiting consideration in the House.
  • HB131 Vaccine Passport Prohibition sponsored by Representative Walt Brooks and Senator Michael Kennedy is a carryover from last year’s pandemic related legislation. It effectively prohibits a place of public accommodation (like the Vivant Arena) from requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination for entry and also prohibits employers from being able to require employees to be vaccinated. The concept is that no employer or public business should have the right to require any patron or employee to undergo a medical procedure to which they object. While BioUtah believes its members should have the right to operate their businesses as they believe is best for their work environment, we are unaware of any companies that are requiring vaccines. However, certain jobs do require vaccination such as employees of life science companies that must be in hospitals or in facilities out of state or out of country that can legally require persons to be vaccinated. BioUtah worked with the sponsors to amend the bill providing an exemption from the law allowing employers to require vaccinations for an employee if the job description for that employee clearly showed a nexus with a vaccination requirement. The bill has passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate later this week.
  • HB54 Tax Revisions sponsored by Representative Steve Eliason and Senator Dan McCay targets a reduction of the corporate and individual tax rate from 4.85% to as low as 4.65%. The bill has been assigned to the House Revenue and Tax Committee, but is expected to pass through both chambers. BioUtah supports this lowering of the tax rate.