Oregon delegation visits D.C. to defend the tech industry

Last week I attended a fly-in in Washington, D.C., that was organized by the TechAmerica division of CompTIA. More than 21 technology associations from Technology Councils of North America participated in the two-day event.

I was joined by Aaron and Sherri Woods, who represented Xerox in Wilsonville, and Dave Coryell of Kavi, based in Portland. We participated in sessions with national experts on cybersecurity, high-skilled immigration and the importance of broadband infrastructure and related issues of economic development, access and equity.

We met with members of Oregon’s delegation: Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. We also heard from several other legislators, policymakers and regulators.

Over the course of the visit, we discussed prospects of certain federal legislation, including the Internet Tax Freedom Act, Secure Data Act, the expansion of international free trade agreements, patent litigation reform, immigration reform for high-skilled workers and potential benefits to the tech industry in terms of access to foreign-born talent and capital if the EB-5 program is re-authorized this year.

In the next year we will continue to work with Oregon’s federal delegation in tracking these issues and related legislation and informing our members about opportunities to have their voices heard. To paraphrase Sen. Wyden: The tech industry is clearly recognized as central to Oregon’s future.

Oregon’s federal delegation took interest in the effort to create a Cyber Center of Excellence in Oregon, especially the opportunity for the proposed Center to develop a standardized curriculum for higher education with the goal of producing a cyber-ready workforce, as well as opportunities presented by the local tech industry’s strength in silicon security.

Other highlights of our conversations with Oregon’s federal delegation included Global Smart Cities Challenge projects involving intelligent transit in Portland and big data, agriculture and connected schools in Independence-Monmouth, as well as the importance of apprenticeship and internship programs as a way to help students move from education to careers in software development, computer science and other STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

This sentiment was shared by legislators we met with earlier this month in Salem as part of TAO’s Legislative Tech Training event.

With increasing attention and regulations – both positive and negative- being placed on the tech industry, this is no time to sit on the sidelines and watch someone else define our future for us. I hope to see many of you at Tech Day in Salem on April 8. You can learn more about 2015 tech industry legislative issues here.

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