Archive | Advocacy News

Work on 179D Continues

AIA Virginia and our friends with ACEC Virginia have been working for years to address issues surrounding the Internal Revenue Code Section 179D, Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction.

Many of our firms realize significant tax savings in exchange for spending increased design time incorporating energy-efficient solutions into building designs and we’re working to preserve this benefit on multiple fronts.  Beyond our efforts to get 179D extended at the federal level, we’ve been working to curb a practice that firms are encountering in Virginia.

Some public bodies solicit payments or request fee reductions in exchange for signing the required allocation letter. The AIA and other stakeholders have consistently opposed this practice at the federal, state, and local levels. Last legislative session we worked to add language to the Virginia budget which would prevent a public entity from refusing to sign the allocation letter or make the signature contingent on any transfer of value from the designer to the public entity.

Though this effort failed in the end, we haven’t given up. We worked closely with AIA National, ACEC National, and ACEC Virginia to seek Senator Warner’s assistance and support in gaining more clarity surrounding congressional intent relative to section 179D of the IRC. We’re hoping for that guidance issued at the Federal level can be used to strengthen and complement our work at the state level to clarify legislative intent — and put a stop to public bodies asking for a reduced fee or “kickback” from the deduction.

Posted in Advocacy News

AIA Virginia Affirms Commitment to Principles of Paris Climate Agreement

Though the administration announced that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, AIA Virginia recognizes that the creation and operation of the built environment requires an investment of the earth’s resources — and that many planning, design, construction, and real estate practices can contribute to patterns of resource consumption that will inhibit the sustainable future of the Earth.  The agreement, signed in late 2015 within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commits the international community to fighting harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

At the June 16, 2017, Board of Director’s meeting, AIA Virginia reaffirmed its support for policies, programs, and incentives that encourage energy conservation in the built environment. “AIA Virginia is committed to advocating for resource-efficient building practices and to fostering a more sustainable built environment by helping architects gain the necessary skills and expertise to design better buildings,” said 2017 AIA Virginia President Bill Brown.

“We’re going to continue our work to raise public awareness about the role that buildings can play in combating climate change because we believe that architects can help their clients and communities build a more sustainable, resilient, and prosperous world,” continued Brown.

To see how you can get involved, click here.

Posted in Advocacy News

AIA Position Statement on Pre-licensure Titling: Guidance for Virginia Architecture Firms

The AIA recently issued a statement on their new public policy regarding pre-licensure titling. The new policy seeks to move architecture beyond the use of the term “intern” as a title for those on the path to licensure.

The newly approved statement suggests that “intern” remain a supported title for students working in an architectural office while pursuing an architecture degree and endorses two titles: “architectural associate” and “design professional” for graduates pursuing their license.

In Virginia, and in most states, both suggested titles run counter to regulations. “Architectural” is among the protected “titles” and “design professional” indicates that the individual is licensed or certified in one of the APELSCIDLA professions and by the Virginia Construction Code. As Title and Practice laws protect the “title” architect or any derivative thereof, AIA Virginia recommends against using either “architectural associate” or “design professional” as titles in the Commonwealth. “Design associate” has been suggested as an alternative that would not violate Virginia law or regulation.

Posted in Advocacy News

AIA Opposes Withdrawal from Climate Agreement; Suggest Next Steps for Architects

On June 1, the American Institute of Architects reaffirmed its commitment to climate change mitigation and announced it was opposing the Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Paris Agreement. That accord, signed in late 2015 within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commits the international community to fighting harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“The AIA will not retreat from its long-established efforts to conserve energy and to deploy renewable resources in buildings,” said AIA President Thomas Vonier, FAIA. “We will continue to lead in efforts to curb the use of fuels and technologies that needlessly pollute our atmosphere and harm our environment. This makes good sense economically, and it is in the best interests of those we serve: our clients and the public.”

The AIA has long been committed to fostering a more sustainable and resilient built environment by helping architects gain the skills and knowledge to design better buildings; advocate for policies that promote sustainability; and raise public awareness about the role of buildings in combating climate change. (Read all the ways you can help address climate change here.)

What can you do to help design a more sustainable built environment and speak up for good design? Here are four easy steps:

  1. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper expressing your support for sustainable design.
  2. Sign on to the 2030 Commitment program to eliminate carbon emissions from your projects by the year 2030.
  3. Join the AIA Legislative Action Network, to help advocate for policies that foster a more sustainable built environment.
  4. Learn more about incorporating energy conservation and resilience into design via the AIA’s climate change resource page.

Together, architects can help their clients and communities build a more sustainable, resilient and prosperous world.

6/15/17 Update: AIA Virginia Affirms Commitment to Principles of Paris Climate Agreement.

Posted in Advocacy News, Featured

Virginia Press Association Launches Statewide Public Notice Website

Beginning May 8, 2017, architects will have a way to find and read public notices from anywhere in Virginia through a new statewide public notice website being launched by the Virginia Press Association.

The free website, www.publicnoticevirginia.com, is keyword searchable and will provide access to all local, state and federal government public notices. This includes notices for public meetings, zoning permits, government contracts, court hearings, unclaimed property, foreclosures and other government, business and judicial information.

“Right now, public notices are published only in the area they impact,” said Betsy Edwards, executive director of the Virginia Press Association.  “But the new website will allow someone to quickly and easily look at public notices in another part of the state or to set up a statewide search to find all of the public notices on a particular topic.”

“Virginia’s newspapers are excited to be able to offer the public a way to stay better informed about what is going on in local, state and federal government,” said Edwards.

Posted in Advocacy News

Virginia Town Hall Regulatory Action Notice

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation has made us aware of the opportunity for public participation and comment during a period for regulatory review.  APELSCIDLA Executive Director Kate Nosbisch advises that this is offered on a very limited basis.  Please see, below, the “Virginia Regulatory Town Hall Action Notice” and respond as you deem appropriate.  Note that the deadline for their receipt of comments is April 19, 2017:

The following regulatory stages have been submitted for publication in the Virginia Register

Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects
 Agency Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
 Chapter Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects Regulations (18 VAC 10-20)
 Action General Review 2017
 Stage NOIRA
 Comment Period 03/20/2017 – 04/19/2017
More details on this stage

Please address any questions or comments to Melanie.West@dpb.virginia.gov.

Posted in Advocacy News

AIA Releases Statement on Immigration and Visa Restrictions

On Feb. 20, 2017, the American Institute of Architects released a formal statement on immigration and visa restrictions. Organized around core organizational values, it asserts that people from around the world who desire to live, study, work and travel to and from the United States are vital to American growth and innovation and that immigration and travel restrictions negatively impact business and the profession of architecture.

The AIA upholds the following principles:

  • All people everywhere must be treated fairly and with dignity and respect.
  • Immigration policy must ensure our visa system welcomes individuals who want to contribute to society and stops those who seek to harm us.
  • Architecture is a global profession. Immigration and travel restrictions can disrupt the business of many of our nation’s architectural firms that serve clients and employ staff in and from the countries targeted by the restrictions.
  • Architecture firms and many other businesses must have the ability to attract and retain highly qualified and skilled talent from within and outside the US to remain competitive and meet demand.
  • Freedom to travel without unnecessary restrictions enhances our ability to create and pursue business wherever opportunities exist and to better serve our clients. Strong businesses create jobs that contribute to the health of the US and global economy.
  • Exposure to global perspectives on the built environment is an essential part of architecture and architectural education in the US, and immigrants, colleagues, students and faculty from around the world contribute significantly to this character.
  • Societies everywhere benefit from the ability of architects of all nationalities to collaborate.

The AIA stands for these values and principles. The profession and the broader industry benefit from a visa and immigration process that is uniform, transparent and free from arbitrary implementation.

Posted in Advocacy News

General Assembly Wrap-Up

tl;dr: Historic Tax Credits are capped for 2 years, Construction Management has some new rules; Give to the PAC.

Like so much in the political scene these days, the 2017 General Assembly session has been a bit unusual. As the session came to a close a few days ago, here’s where things ended up.

Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits
It was a wild ride. What started last summer with a subcommittee evaluating the effectiveness of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, suddenly became a  surprise $5M/tax payer cap in the Governor’s budget, and finally culminated in legislation that would have eliminated the tax credit altogether. With help from members, a coalition of supporters, and even Virginia’s first lady, we managed to walk the elimination back to the $5M/tax payer cap with a 2-year sunset. This result is certainly not what we hoped for at the beginning of the session, but we’ve managed to preserve the credit (for now).

We’ll be working between sessions to evaluate and share the results of several studies underway and to educate legislators about the benefits of the credit.

Procurement
Issues surrounding public procurement usually take the bulk of our time, but this year we didn’t have quite as many battles to fight in this arena. We kept a close watch on a number of bills but stayed out the fray for the most part as other entities duked it out.

HB2366 and its Senate version SB1129 regarding the use of Construction Management contracts have been adopted.

HB1693 has passed and is waiting on the governor’s signature. In contracts for architectural and engineering services relating to multiple construction projects, this bill increased the fee for any single project from $100,000 to $150,000.

SB1508 added language to include certain school divisions under the exception from the $100,000 single-project fee limit for architectural and professional engineering term contracts and the $ 1 million annual aggregate total of all such projects. Under the bill, the school divisions may pay a single-project fee of up to $2.5 million and an annual aggregate of $6 million. Certain localities already enjoy this exception.

There was some movement on the definition of small businesses, though minor. HB1858 would allow for SWaM businesses certified at the federal level (or some other certification process comparable to Virginia’s) to be certified in the Commonwealth. I include this under the procurement category because we’ve been watching small business definitions carefully. If Virginia’s small business definition for architecture firms changes, it could have a substantial impact on Qualifications Based Selection because of Executive Order 20 and its requirement to exceed an expenditure goal of 42% with small businesses.

Regulation
Lots of bills that could impact the regulatory environment showed up this year. They fell primarily into 2 different categories — legislation related to the Administrative Process Act and legislation related to regulatory boards.

Administrative Process Act
These bills were mostly aimed at reducing regulatory burden.

HB1731  requires the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (on a yet-to-be-determined schedule) to conduct an ongoing review of the exemptions authorized by the Administrative Process Act.

HB1790  requires agencies to develop regulations in the least burdensome and intrusive manner possible. The bill calls for each agency to establish a schedule that provides for the annual review of at least 10 percent of an agency’s regulations.

HB1943 and its Senate companion, SB1431, require the Dept. of Planning and Budget to revise and reissue its economic impact analysis in certain circumstances.

SJ295 grants to the General Assembly the authority to review any administrative rule to ensure it is consistent with the legislative intent.

Board Regulation
Of all the bills related to the Regulatory Board that we were monitoring, none passed except for SB1374 which added an engineer to the board for contractors. The handful of bills that would have provided some additional oversight for the board all died. The bill that would have deregulated Landscape Architects and Certified Interior Designers failed, as did proposed regulation of land surveyor photogrammetrists.

Thank you
I hope you’ll join me in thanking Kenney Payne, AIA; Lynden Garland, AIA; Robert Burns, AIA and Ed Gillikin, AIA, who gave countless hours in support of our efforts. In addition, our friends with ACEC Virginia, the AIA Virginia Government Affairs Advisory Council and GIA Committee, and our legislative counsel with Williams Mullen were invaluable.

Obligatory PAC Appeal
No session wrap-up would be complete without an appeal to support the AIA Virginia PAC.

Our policy makers and politicians are stewards of our built infrastructure. They make decisions about the built world everyday — from funding, to planning, to preserving, to demolition — but most of them aren’t experts in design and planning. PAC money doesn’t buy influence, but it DOES help us get a seat at the table, so we can educate policy-makers on issues that are important to us. Give to the PAC today.

Posted in Advocacy News

General Assembly Update: Crossover Edition

Today is the mid-point of the 2017 General Assembly session, known as “crossover.” At this point, each house of the legislature can only consider bills passed by the other house. [Translation: No new bills and any bills that haven’t been heard yet are dead for the session.]

Here’s where things stand now:

Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits — Two bills survive: HB2460 and SB1034. Both bills cap the credit at $5M per taxpayer (as does the Governor’s budget). We were successful in getting the Senate bill amended to include a one-year sunset provision. Because of Governor’s budget already assumed this $5M cap and its related savings, we’re told that this is our best case scenario in this incredibly tight budget year.

Our goal now is to visit with members of the House side (who will be hearing SB1034 in the coming weeks) to ask that they don’t strip our amendment out. The Senate is expected to automatically add our amendment to HB2460. Our message to the House committee members will be that we appreciate the prudent measures that legislators are taking regarding the budget and we support a one-year sunset on the $5M cap. We’re asking that they not make the cap permanent until we receive the results of the studies that are currently underway. These studies will evaluate the credit’s ROI to the Commonwealth and are expected to be complete by mid-summer.

We’ll be meeting with the following legislators who sit on the House Finance Subcommittee 3 this week:

Delegate Kathy J. Byron

Delegate Lee Ware

Delegate Robert D. Orrock, Sr.

Delegate Timothy D. Hugo

Delegate Mark L. Keam

If you’re able to join me in meetings on Wednesday or Thursday, please contact me as soon as possible at rgeorge@aiava.org. Even if your legislator isn’t listed above, please consider reaching out to express support for a one-year sunset on the cap in SB1034 and HB2460. If you have a personal story about how the current uncertainty regarding the cap has caused funders to pull back on projects, please contact me and/or share it with your legislator. Feel free to call me at (804) 237-1768 if you’d like to talk about the credit a bit before reaching out to your legislator.

Procurement – We’re monitoring SB1129 which deals with the use of construction management contracts.

And, though we haven’t taken a position on Virginia’s definitions for small businesses, we’re watching SB1334 very closely. If Virginia’s small business definition for architecture firms changes, it could have a substantial impact on Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) because of Executive Order 20 and its requirement to exceed an expenditure goal of 42% with small businesses.

Regulation — Though nearly a dozen have died, we continue to monitor several bills that relate to the regulatory environment.

SB1449 seeks to address general concerns about overregulation, however (as one observer put it), the bills add another state division and another commission, essentially creating more red tape. We’re not taking a position but will watch to see that amendments don’t take us in a bad direction.

Of the several bills intending to address anti-trust concerns related to the Supreme Court ruling, North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, HB1566 has prevailed. We’re generally supportive, but we’ll continue to watch closely to make sure no erosion of licensure or HSW protections creep in.

HB1731, HB1790, and HB1871 call for a review of the Administrative Process Act which could impact the regulatory environment further down the road.

Posted in Advocacy News

NCARB Responds to ABA Announcement

On Jan. 9, 2017, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) issued a statement responding to an announcement made by the recently constituted American Board of Architecture (ABA).

The ABA was founded in 2014 and describes itself as an accrediting body. ABA recently asserted that it is “writing new licensing exams and reforming state board [sic] of examiners to ensure qualified, unbiased public representation in law-making bodies.” ABA hopes to address what it describes as “corruption” and “fairness” issues stemming from current architectural licensing practices. NCARB requires a degree from a NAAB-accredited program to satisfy the education requirement for certification.

According to NCARB’s statement, “only state and jurisdictional governments have the authority to form, or reform, their boards. Regarding examination, all U.S. jurisdictions use the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) as produced by NCARB; some jurisdictions overlay additional examination components.”

Read NCARB’s full response>>

Posted in Advocacy News

 

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Membership News

  • New Bylaws Clarification

    During the June 16, 2017, virtual membership meeting, the membership approved the new AIA Virginia Bylaws.




Professional Development News

  • Collaboration

    Join us in Richmond this November for the 30th annual Architecture Exchange East.




Government Advocacy News

  • Work on 179D Continues

    AIA Virginia and our friends with ACEC Virginia have been working for years to address issues surrounding the Internal Revenue Code Section 179D, Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction.




Supporters

Virginia Accord

  • The Virginia Accord

    Bringing together the planning and design disciplines to examine two key themes critical to the future — job creation and environmental sustainability — on Sept. 19-20, 2014 at the Virginia Accord.