SEMI Holds Successful 2010 Washington Forum

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SEMI Hosts Successful 2010 Washington Forum

By Jamie Girard, manager, SEMI North America Public Policy

On May 11-12, members of the SEMI North American Advisory Board met in Washington, D.C. for the annual SEMI Washington Forum. They were joined by expert representatives from other SEMI member companies to take part in the two-day event which gives industry leaders a window into the world of policy, as well as bringing important industry needs straight to policy makers, in face-to-face meetings.

The Washington Forum is held annually to press decision makers to support policies promoting a strong high-tech industry in the United States. It is a critical tool to present our member companies’ policy interests directly with Members of Congress and Administration officials. After a day of training and briefing meetings with SEMI lobbyists and staff, there is a full day of meetings with Congressional offices and key agencies to advocate and explain critical policies that benefit the semiconductor equipment and materials industry.

The 22 participants in this year’s Washington Forum were divided up into four teams, with each team being responsible for a specific policy area. These areas were:

  • Solar PV Energy Policy (2 teams)
  • American Competitiveness and Innovation
  • Export Control Reform

Between the four teams, 20 meetings were held with Members of Congress, their senior staff and relevant officials within the federal agencies.

The two solar teams concentrated on pushing Congress to pass energy legislation this year, including the implementation of a strong national renewable energy standard (RES) to help drive the market for increased deployment of Solar PV. The solar teams also spoke with policymakers about the need to establish a “Green Bank” (to assist in the financing of qualified renewable energy projects) and to extend the alternative energy tax incentives that help to drive the U.S. market. This includes removing the cap on the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit (MTC) which provided $2.3 billion in tax credits for building renewable energy/energy efficiency manufacturing capacity in America.

Meanwhile, the “America Competes” Team met with prominent members of the committees of jurisdiction that have responsibility for funding U.S. federal scientific research programs. The team spoke about the importance of continuing the trend in doubling of funding for the U.S. science agencies, as well passing the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, which was first passed in 2007, and authorized a host of programs aimed at making the U.S. more competitive in science, technology, engineering and math. The group also pushed for the need to renew the R&D tax credit, and to deal with the issue of high-skills immigration reform.

The final group concentrated on the issue of Export Controls. The Obama Administration has recently made a major announcement that they are taking an approach to seriously reform the current export controls regime. With that is mind, the Export Controls team met with both leaders on Capitol Hill, as well as high-ranking officials in the Departments of State and Commerce to press for the industry’s concerns on this matter.

In addition, as part of the Washington Forum activities, SEMI also presented Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) with the industry’s 2010 North American Government Leadership Award. This award is given annually to the policymaker in the United States who has demonstrated outstanding leadership on issues and policies that support U.S. microelectronics and photovoltaic manufacturing. Bingaman is the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and a member of the Senate Finance Committee. He spearheaded energy legislation that was passed by committee in June 2009, which includes provisions for a renewable energy standard and the creation of the Green Bank. (Pictured Left to Right: Jonathan Davis, president of SEMI North America; Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Senator; Leo Berlinghieri, SEMI North America Advisory Board Chairman, CEO and president of MKS Instruments, Inc.)

Effective government policies in support of the semiconductor supply chain are essential to SEMI members and to the U.S. economy. Because of this, SEMI will continue to have a strong presence in Washington, D.C., and continue to host events like the Washington Forum. Bringing together experts from the semiconductor industry with those who make policy decisions will continue to be important to ensuring the strength of the industry.

For more information, please contact me, Jamie Girard at or call 202.289.0440.

May 20, 2010