Comstock tours facility, explains deregulation plans

Rep. Barbara Comstock, left, speaks with Paul Vitagliano, right, vice president and general manager of Thermo Fisher Scientific in Middletown, during a tour on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

MIDDLETOWN – Representative Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) toured the recently expanded Thermo Fisher Scientific facility Tuesday and laid out plans to try to loosen regulations on business to help foster innovation and growth.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Vice President and General Manager Paul Vitagliano led Comstock around the 325,000 square foot chemical engineering site after a sit down with local media.

During her interview, Comstock said it’s businesses like Thermo Fisher Scientific she would like to see expand in Virginia as well as in her district.

“It’s very exciting for me to see this kind of innovative company in the districts,” she said. “I love coming out and being able to visit to see and meet everybody in the field and seeing what we can be doing to improve the innovation economy. These are exactly the kinds of jobs we want to see grow.”

Comstock said businesses are suffering today because strict regulations are stifling their natural growth and innovative processes. She plans to work to reform the Food and Drug Administration to make for more lucrative international deals, as well as to lower corporate tax rates and incentivize research and development.

Rep. Barbara Comstock looks toward Paul Vitagliano, left, vice president and general manager of Thermo Fisher Scientific in Middletown, during a media conference and tour of the facility on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

“When companies are here being innovative, we don’t come at them and start making their life more difficult,” she said. “We allow them to innovate and grow, and recognize all they’re giving back to the community.”

Specifically, she said she takes issue with the Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama’s recently enacted labor regulations.

“Whether it’s Obamacare regulations or some of the new labor regulations that are coming in, that are really a throwback to the ’40s and earlier, they come in and try to overregulate and do all these things with work hours that just aren’t needed,” Comstock said. “In the modern workforce where you have two-earner families, they need flexibility.”

In May, Obama finalized rule changes with the Department of Labor that guarantee overtime pay for anyone who makes less than $47,476 annually and works more than 40 hours per week.

The congresswoman specifically commended recent practices of Thermo Fisher Scientific including a program the company started with Lord Fairfax Community College in using graduates of the school’s manufacturing and technology certification program.

According to Vitagliano, following the company’s expansion that was completed in 2015, Thermo Fisher Scientific added 14 new jobs to the area to accompany the extra 30,000 square feet. Those jobs are a mix of both skilled and unskilled labor.

Other ideas Comstock shared to expand the medical and research and development field include her aiding the House of Representative’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, increased funding for the National Institute of Health, and increased science, technology, engineering and math early education.

“The medical field and medical innovation, that is another huge growth area that I think we need to be a leader in and can be a leader in,” she said. “We have the university support, we have the business leadership support, and we have it on a bipartisan basis.”

Comstock is the representative for the 10th district of Virginia. She is running for re-election in 2016.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com