The practice of Architecture is a regulated profession that depends on the actions of the General Assembly and the Administration. Our elected officials discuss and debate legislation that affects our profession every day. Architects must engage in the legislative and regulatory process to protect our profession and keep it strong for the future. Building relationships with legislators give our profession a voice in the political process.

On July 27 Eliza Engle, AIA and Sean Reilly, AIA, members of AIA Virginia’s Government Advocacy Advisory Council had a very productive meeting with three Virginia State Senators and representatives from other industries at Williams Mullen, AIA Virginia’s lobbying firm. Senators Jill Vogel, Glen Sturtevant and Dick Black all serve on the Senate General Laws Committee, which debates and decides on legislation that impacts our profession. Each representative was given the opportunity to introduce themselves and speak about legislative concerns they wanted to share with the Senators.

Engle and Reilly emphasized the importance of Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) and the existing loophole that allows local governments and other public bodies to choose a competitive procurement process based on fee instead of qualifications. The Senators were very interested in learning more about the QBS loophole, which seemed to garner the most discussion of any topic at the meeting.

Senator Dick Black noted that the Dillon rule was originally created so that the most qualified vendor would be selected based on their experience, not based on the lowest fee. Reginald Jones, partner at Williams Mullen, spoke about the need to have a uniform set of professional services procurement rules throughout the state, rather than a mixture of locally adopted procurement procedures that has been evolving. Senators Vogel, Black and Sturtevant all agreed that the Qualifications Based Selection law is important and should be consistently upheld throughout the state.

Gaining the Senator’s support of closing the QBS loophole is a key step in what we anticipate will be a multi-year effort. The QBS loophole is just one of many issues we are working on that are important to our profession. We have a lot of newly elected officials on key committees to educate and seek support from on issues that impact our profession. In order to have a voice in the political process and build relationships with key influencers, it is important to financially support lawmakers who best support our position on the issues, regardless of party affiliation. The AIA Virginia PAC disburses funds to legislators who support issues that affect all Architects in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We strongly urge you to raise the volume of our advocacy voice by giving to the PAC today.