Washington, D.C. (March 16, 1999) The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today honored Massachusetts Rep. Lida E. Harkins (D-Needham) as BIO State Legislator of the Year for her support of the industry's continued viability and growth in the Bay State.
BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum said, "Rep. Harkins' leadership in Massachusetts has contributed directly to the biotech industry's progress in solving the toughest challenges our society faces in health care, agriculture, manufacturing and environmental management. We applaud her efforts and hope she will continue working with us in support of the vast benefits to be derived from biotechnology innovation."
Rep. Harkins was selected from among 7,000 state legislators nationwide for advocating biotechnology development and educating Massachusetts citizens and her fellow lawmakers about the industry. The BIO award presentation was made by Dan Eramian, BIO's vice president for communications and former executive editor of the Suburban World Newspaper, which includes the Needham Times.
For example, Rep. Harkins, chairman of the House Committee on Science & Technology, is the sponsor of a genetic testing and privacy bill that protects patients' rights and biotechnology research. She fought to apply state sales tax exemptions and investment tax credits to biotech companies and to defeat legislation that would have impeded companies' life-saving drug development. Last year she also organized a legislative forum on issues related to the state's biotechnology industry.
Harkins' 13th Norfolk District includes Boston suburbs along the Route 128 high-tech corridor in Massachusetts. Greater Boston and Worcester are the state's two major centers for biotech companies. The Bay State also is home to universities that lead the world in biotech research, such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts and Tufts University.
Massachusettsranks second in the nation to California in number of biotech companies with 250 firms employing 18,000 people. The state's 52 publicly traded companies have a combined $13 billion market capitalization. In 1998, its $1 billion in federal R&D funding led all states in amount of research dollars received per capita.
Rep. Harkins is a former elementary school teacher who was first elected to the Massachusetts House in 1988. She has been chairman of the Housing & Urban Development Committee and vice chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee. She has co-chaired the bi-partisan Women's Caucus and the state's Special Education Study Commission.
BIO presented Rep. Harkins with her award as State Legislator of the Year at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council's annual meeting in Boston.
BIO represents more than 850 biotechnology companies, academic institutions and state biotech centers in 47 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotech products.