Despite two years of partisan gridlock, Congress is on the verge of passing legislation by the AIA to help architects design better buildings.
These efforts represent the culmination of years of work by AIA members like you who have written, emailed and visited with your elected representatives in record numbers, showing the power of the profession to advocate.
Here’s what we know so far:
- The House has passed and the Senate is about to pass legislation that includes the first significant changes to federal design-build laws in years. The bill would limit the number of finalists in the second stage of a military design-build procurement to no more than five in competitions worth more than $4 million, putting the brakes on a practice that leaves firms spending more and more to win work, with worsening odds of actually winning anything. Although the final provision does not go as far as the AIA had pushed, it puts into U.S. law for the first time protections for firms from increasingly expensive and unwinnable competitions.
- Congress also is about to send to the White House legislation that restores the 179D energy efficient building tax deduction, along with other tax incentives. The 179D deduction expired at the end of 2013; the bill restores it for projects placed into service in 2014. This enables commercial building owners to claim the deduction for work completed in 2014, and design firms to claim the deduction for public buildings placed into service in 2014 when the public entity allocates it. Although a broad coalition of business groups pushed for a longer extension, there already is talk of Congress taking up these provisions again in 2015.
With Congress about to adjourn and go home, it looks like we’ve managed to stop two bills that would have set us back.
- The end of the Congress means the end (for now) of legislation repealing federal 2030 targets. Despite a strong lobbying push by the fossil fuel industry, an AIA-led coalition of more than 1000 companies and organizations blocked the effort. Although the provision may come under attack again in 2015, the AIA and its allies showed the power of grassroots engagement in protecting sensible sustainability policy.
- For the fifth year running, the AIA and its allies knocked down a proposal to raise taxes on architecture and other professional services firms that organize as S corporations. Although the provision may return to life next year, the AIA and its allies have succeeded in building a collation on Capitol Hill that stands with architects against punitive tax increases.’
These victories show that when AIA members like you work together, we can get things done – even in an extremely difficult political environment.
December 15, 2014 UPDATE: Congress has passed this legislation. see this update.