SOCMA Outlines Legislative Goals for 2010

January 14, 2010
Patricia Van Arnum

Patricia Van Arnum was executive editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates outlined its legislative priorities for the second session of the 111th Congress.

The international Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) has outlined its legislative priorities for 2010 for the second session of the 111th Congress, plans for its national program — SOCMA Connect — and efforts to launch a voter-registration drive before the November mid-term elections. SOCMA is a trade association representing custom and batch manufacturers of fine and specialty chemicals, including contract producers of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and pharmaceutical intermediates.

"Our priorities this year are similar to those in 2009, but our message will more forcefully communicate how overreaching legislation will negatively impact specialty chemical manufacturers, particularly small and mid-sized producers," Bill Allmond, SOCMA's Vice President of government relations and ChemStewards, an environmental health and safety program, said in a SOCMA press release. "With unemployment still at 10%, Congress should be doing all it can to take concerns about new regulatory burdens more seriously."

SOCMA's key legislative priorities revolve around: chemical-site security, reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), climate change, food and drug safety, R&D tax credits and trade.

For chemical-site security, SOCMA says it "will continue to support permanent risk-based regulations that comprehensively address security at chemical facilities without mandating inherently safer technology (IST) implementation under the guise of security," according to the SOCMA release.

In November 2009, the US House of Representatives passed legislation that included chemical-site security measures with IST provisions. The IST provisions add a requirement to existing industry security standards to mandate process or chemical substitution of certain chemicals as directed by the US Department of Homeland Security. IST is a conceptual framework that covers chemical-processing procedures, equipment, protection and, when feasible, the use of safer substances.

Although SOCMA favors chemical-security measures, the group opposes mandating IST. "SOCMA members sent over 200 letters to members of Congress last year voicing their opposition to mandating IST in this bill," said Allmond. "Our grassroots efforts are now focused on the Senate, which is expected to give greater consideration to the harmful effects IST implementation would have on batch chemical manufacturers."

SOCMA is also participating in the chemicals-management policy debate. TSCA provides the US Environmental Protection Agency with authority to require reporting, recordkeeping, testing, and restrictions relating to chemical substances or mixtures. "Any reform of TSCA should leverage regulatory efforts that have demonstrated success, while maintaining a fundamentally risk-based framework that prioritize chemicals for further review," said Allmond.

The association says it will continue to monitor climate legislation and regulatory activity, including the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733), which awaits action by the Senate. SOCMA thinks that a cap-and-trade bill will not likely pass the Senate this year, but that it expects that "a major climate-change/clean-energy bill will remain a top Democratic Congressional priority over the next two years."

SOCMA says it will continue to address the risks associated with importation of APIs from emerging markets and overall food and drug safety. The key piece of legislation that it is monitoring is the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR 2749) that passed the House and was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for consideration.

The association is also seeking to permanently extend R&D tax credits. "Our industry does its part by spending large amounts each year to design new products that support our economy and daily living," said Allmond. "Government incentives such as the R&D tax credit go a long way toward spurring innovation of these products and protecting and growing jobs."

SOCMA says it supports pending free-trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama, and Columbia and would welcome the passage of a US-Korea FTA in 2010. SOCMA says it plans to follow closely the administration’s efforts to move forward with a trans-Pacific Partnership. "This administration has emphasized that boosting exports is a part of its economic agenda, and we will be supporting efforts in Congress to ensure that export-oriented growth that benefits our membership is a priority," Allmond said in the release.

The association also is launching new services under a program called SOCMA CONNECT to assist members in their Congressional advocacy efforts. These web-based tools will allow SOCMA members to research election dates, races, and issue information. SOCMA CONNECT will also initiate voter-registration drives and provide email updates on races and candidates.

www.socma.com

See related stories

House Committee Passes IST Requirements in Chemical Facility Security Bill (ePT)
SOCMA updates advocacy against IST provisions (ePT)