April 15th- Today at Cortex in St. Louis, Senator Claire McCaskill addressed an audience of business leaders and entrepreneurs in a townhall style meeting.
Recognizing the growing impact of St. Louis’ startups on the economy, Sen. McCaskill spoke on several topics important to entrepreneurs, ranging from Immigration to tax credits to encouraging entrepreneurs to contact their elected officials to effect the change they want to see. “All too often,” said Sen McCaskill, “you entrepreneurs are busy creating new technology, working on your company and are too busy to think about contacting your elected official, but it makes a difference when you do.”
On a humorous note, the Senator added, “One third of Missouri thinks I’m Satan on a horse and gets that view affirmed by Fox News. Another third of Missouri thinks I’m perfect and gets that view affirmed on MSNBC. The other third is too busy signing permission slips for their kids, working and taking care of their families to worry about politics.” The comment drew laughs while driving home her point. “When we get letters,” she said, “all too often its just the people on the fringe politically that contact us, and I want to hear from everyone.”
Here are a few subjects covered, and the Senator’s remarks:
Immigration: “The notion that we [The United States] isn’t stapling a green card to every [college/university] degree is nuts. We are letting these people get a great education and then take those skills back to their country instead of keeping them here.” She added a study had been done recently that showed how positive immigration is for a city and that its going to take the entrepreneurial class to contact their elected officials so that they realize its an important topic
Tax Credits: A research and development tax credit bill has been marked up in Missouri and is on its way to a vote soon. It will extend the temporary provision that was granted in 2010 and offer companies a potantial refund on payroll taxes of up to $250K.
JOBS Act: While saying she supported the JOBS act, she did say that in her role as a protector of consumers she worries that some bad actors may try and take advantage of the JOBS act to rob less than savvy investors. She did add she believes the program will be “run right” and be good for innovation so companies can create jobs once they are funded.
Patent Reform/Patent Trolls: Senator McCaskill made it clear she is NOT a fan of the practice known as ‘patent rolling’ and said demand letter reform should be done by August. (Demand letters are used by patent trolls, usually a big company versus a little one, claiming patent violation and “demanding” the company cease and desist, forcing them into costly legal negotiation or a settlement). The Senator also pointed out some of her Republican colleagues are against patent reform and doesn’t want the FTC involved. In her words, “If we don’t have a cop on this beat, [Patent Reform] it will never get better”
NIH Funding Science Research: When asked by a scientist if the government planned on increasing the amounts the National Institute of Health awarded to research. Senator McCaskill answered that an extra $1 Billion had been allocated to the NIH this year but that, like many issues, it is usually the fringe that reaches out to their elected officials. She encouraged scientists especially to contact their legislators so that they know how important scientific research is. As proof that some legislators don’t understand the importance of scientific research, she said the current front runner for Senator of Georgia [Paul Broun] recently said, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.”
In discussion with others in attendance afterward, the consensus was that Senator McCaskill came prepared to speak intelligently to the topics raised and others were impressed she planned to put together a focus group of scientists so that she could better understand their needs.