The state of the states

November 5, 2020
It's Thursday, and we're still unpacking the election results. BIO’s VP of State Government Affairs Patrick Plues is back with an update on what we know about the state races, and we also take a look at results that could impact agriculture, biofuels, and climate…
BIO

It's Thursday, and we're still unpacking the election results. BIO’s VP of State Government Affairs Patrick Plues is back with an update on what we know about the state races, and we also take a look at results that could impact agriculture, biofuels, and climate policy. (820 words, 4 minutes, 5 seconds)

 

The state of the states

 
 

“What a long strange trip it’s been.” No, not the Grateful Dead’s 1977 album, but Tuesday’s state elections. 

The gubernatorial race results were what we expected. Democrats retained Governors’ mansions in Delaware, North Carolina, and Washington State, while Republicans kept Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia. Republicans even picked up the Governor’s seat in Montana, which will bring the 2021 partisan breakdown to 27 Republican Governors and 23 Democratic Governors. In the 2018 midterms, Democrats made significant gains in gubernatorial races across the country, which brought some degree of parity in party control. That parity is still somewhat intact.

Where Democrats struggled was in their attempt to flip state legislatures. Democrats had the possibility of gaining control of one or both legislative chambers in Iowa, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, but failed on all accounts. One of the most surprising results for me was in Minnesota, where Democrats were expected to gain control of the Senate and the entire state government. While the partisan breakdown is not final, we expect Republicans to hold the Minnesota Senate by a thin margin. I was also surprised by Michigan, where Democrats were expected to take the House, but failed. 

Republicans held their ground in the state chambers they were defending, and picked up both the New Hampshire House and Senate, giving Republicans total control of the state. Arizona remains the only wild card as the results are still being tabulated. There, Democrats were expected to take control of both the House and Senate, but the latest intel is that Democrats may only get one chamber, if any. 

Finally, it’s worth mentioning some key state legislative leaders who lost their elections—the Democratic Speaker of the Rhode Island House, Nicholas Mattiello, as well as the Democratic Speaker of the Vermont House, Mitzi Johnson.  

This is still very much a fluid situation in many states as mail-in, absentee, and provisional ballots still need to be counted, but suffice to say that Republicans held their own in the states, while Democrats fell short. 

What does this mean for BIO? With no drastic changes on Tuesday, we will go into the 2021 state legislative sessions focusing on some of the same issues we dealt with in 2020. State legislators will be focused on filling budget shortfalls resulting from decreased tax revenues and getting COVID-19 under control. And both Republicans and Democrats will become more focused on prescription drug prices given the budget implications of increased Medicaid rolls and falling tax revenue. 

– Patrick Plues, BIO’s VP of State Government Affairs

 
 
 
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What the election results mean for agriculture and the bioeconomy

 
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While there are still a lot of unknowns in the election, we do know a few key results that will have an impact on climate policy and the bioeconomy.   

ICYMI: House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) lost reelection. The Republican challenger, Minnesota’s former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, defeated the 15-term congressman 53.4% to 39.9%.

Peterson’s departure means the Agriculture Committee will likely look a little different—and require more bipartisanship. We’ll be watching to see what this means for sustainable fuels and biobased manufacturing—which are covered by the Farm Bill’s energy title—as well as agriculture innovation broadly, including biotech’s role in improving resilience in food, animal health and wellness, and addressing climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. David Scott (D-GA) is likely to assume the committee chair position. BIO has worked with him in the past on the development of clean energy programs. 

What about the Growing Climate Solutions Act? The Democratic sponsor of the legislation—Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)—faced a very tight race, but just squeaked out a victory over the Republican challenger. Interestingly, the Republican sponsor of the bill—Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE)—won reelection in a district that went for Joe Biden

And what’s happening in Iowa? Biofuels supporter Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) faced a tough challenge from Democrat Theresa Greenfield, but ultimately held onto the seat.

The bottom line: BIO looks forward to continuing to work closely with the House Agriculture Committee and all newly elected and reelected lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to advance biotechnology and the biobased economy, especially in climate policy decisions.

 

More News:  

STAT News: FDA scientists appear to offer major endorsement of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s treatment
“In a lengthy document released Wednesday, FDA staff appeared to endorse approving the treatment, which would become the first new Alzheimer’s therapy in nearly two decades.” 

The New York Times: U.S. quits Paris climate agreement: questions and answers
“As of Wednesday, under United Nations rules, the United States is officially out of the global climate accord.”

 
 
 
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So, who is BIO, anyway?
 
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The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world the importance of science and biotech breakthroughs—and we've been working hard to change the dialogue about science in the country.

One way we're doing it: by giving a platform to the people in the biotech industry, including hidden heroes in the labs and tireless patient advocates.

So, who exactly is BIO? We're a biopharma exec and physician who volunteered in a hospital during the COVID crisis. We're students who are working to end the opioid epidemic and clean up the planet's water and soil. We're advocates for patients living with rare disease, and ensuring everyone has access to mental health care.

Click here to watch them tell their stories—and share your own.

 
 
 
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BIO Beltway Report
BIO Beltway Report
 
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President Trump’s Thursday: No public events scheduled. While the Trump campaign is filing lawsuits to stop vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Joe Biden was declared the winner in Michigan and Wisconsin.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for a coronavirus aid package before the end of the year, reports POLITICO.

 
 
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