Representative Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon) filed legislation this week to help companies working in Washington State’s nascent space exploration industry. The bill would create a public-private partnership called the Washington Space Exploration Center of Excellence to promote cross-sector collaboration.
“There are a number companies doing groundbreaking work here in Washington, but too often they are isolated and unaware of the many resources available to them at the state and federal level,” said Morris, who chairs the Technology and Economic Development Committee.
The concept came after several meetings and discussions with Washington space industry leaders about how the State could aid its growing space exploration sector. The Center would help arrange joint ventures between the industry and higher education institutions, identify and assist with technology transfer and commercialization, and provide a centralized hub for the industry.
“Encouraging collaboration and innovation among these companies will create more new economy, family-wage jobs for Washington residents,” said Morris. “It may be just a few small steps, but this bill will spur a giant leap forward for our space exploration sector.”
The bill, HB 2434, is complimentary to HB 2226, introduced last year by Rep. Morris. HB 2226 would have put space exploration into the same tax category as commercial airplanes. By some accounts, the impact on tax revenue would be about $1.1 million, which amounts to less than a hundredth of a percent of the state’s $38.2 billion operating budget for 2015-2017.
The Washington Space Exploration Center of Excellence would be managed by a board of directors, made up of representatives from private firms, industry associations, and higher education institutions, with specific performance milestones to measure its success. It would be housed in by a university, government, or nonprofit located in Washington.