An Update on the Virginia General Assembly, and other advocacy activities

While AIA Virginia did not propose any legislation in the Virginia General Assembly this year, we have been vigilant in monitoring the bills that were proposed by others. When proposed legislation does, or might, affect us, we have developed an appropriate response: supporting or opposing those bills – or, in some cases, working to see that they are amended to our satisfaction.

Having just passed the midway point of Virginia’s legislative session – after which the bills “crossover” to the other chamber – we will remain attentive to the progress of the surviving legislation. We will monitor how each bill advances; whether it is passed, or amended, by the other chamber; how, if amended, it is resolved by a Committee of Conference; whether it is accepted, vetoed, or amended, by the Governor; and how, if amended or vetoed, it is received by the General Assembly.

In the meantime, we have a sizeable delegation headed to DC for AIA Leadership Summit 2023. Next week’s program includes sessions on Leadership, Advocacy, Engagement, and the role of the Citizen Architect. There will be opportunities to network with AIA members from across the country. And Hill Day will afford the opportunity to connect with our elected officials at the national level to discuss issues of interest to AIA nationally – as well as some items of local interest that could be affected by federal legislation.

There is certainly plenty of good work being done. I applaud those who are active in advocacy.

This work requires consistent action. It is never finished. It requires constant engagement, and education, at the local, state, and federal levels.

Soon after the current legislative sessions end, we will turn our attention to considering how we can better coordinate and organize our various advocacy programs and increase the impact of our legislative and regulatory activities. Stay tuned for additional information about that.

And please invest in the PAC. The PAC is a powerful tool in our advocacy toolbox. We will need your help to keep this, and all our tools, sharp.

AIA Virginia General Assembly Special Session Update

On August 18th, the Virginia General Assembly convened for a special session to revisit the recently passed biennial budget ravaged by COVID-19 and to take up legislation predominantly focused on pandemic impacts, criminal justice, and police reform. At the onset, the House met at VCU’s Siegel Center and the Senate used the Science Museum of Virginia as its meeting venue. The House chamber got off to a delayed start eventually deciding to conduct its business virtually.

The Virginia Secretary of Finance announced that the Commonwealth is faced with a $2.7 billion revenue shortfall in the two-year budget. To balance the budget, the Governor proposed cuts to one-time spending and canceling deposits into the Commonwealth’s rainy-day fund. The General Assembly is currently in the process of considering the Governor’s amendments.  The major issue we are tracking in the budget is funding for capital projects. As you may recall, during the Reconvene Session in April the Governor was given the authority to suspend or delay capital expenditures. At this time any delay in capital project spending at the state level has been based on a project by project basis. After reviewing the Governor’s amendments and discussions with the Administration, we do not see or anticipate any across the board cuts to capital spending.

AIA Virginia is monitoring the following two pieces of legislation that may impact your firm:

HB 5116Guzman – Public and private employers; required to provide eligible employees paid quarantine leave, etc.

This legislation would require employers to provide paid quarantine leave. The bill would require 80 hours of paid sick leave if an employee or family member contracted COVID or if an employee or a family member must quarantine. Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) introduced a similar bill (SB 5076) which failed to pass the Committee on Commerce and Labor with a 12-3 vote. Delegate Guzman’s bill passed the House with a 54-44 after being heavily amended several times. Based on the action in the Senate we anticipate this bill may fail, but are uncertain as to whether future amendments may increase its likelihood of success.

SB 5067Saslaw and HB 5074Sullivan – COVID-19 virus; immunity from civil claims related to transmission of or exposure to the virus.

Various legislators have introduced bills that provide immunity from civil claims related to the transmission or exposure to COVID-19 if the organization has complied with applicable local, state, and federal policies and guidance. Typically, when a number of legislators introduce similar bills, the result is one combined bill. In this case, the Senate Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Saslaw (D-Springfield) is carrying the combined bill in the Senate and Delegate Rip Sullivan (D-Arlington) is carrying the companion in the House.

SB 5106Lewis – Local land use approvals; extension of approvals to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

SB 5106 extends until at least July 1, 2022, the sunset date for various local land use approvals that were valid and outstanding as of July 1, 2020. This measure was introduced at the request of the Homebuilders Association of Virginia and is supported by many organizations who are concerned with COVID-19 slowdowns in construction projects that rely on various local land use approvals. The bill has passed the Senate and we are awaiting committee assignment in the House.

If you have any questions, please feel free to submit them to Corey Clayborne, FAIA at

2019 Political Outlook in Virginia

Earlier this month, I attended a luncheon presented by the Virginia Society of Association Executives in Richmond. The keynote was presented by Dr. Robert Holsworth who currently serves as Managing Principal of DecideSmart. The presentation was captivating and intriguing, presenting the 2019 political landscape of Virginia within the General Assembly.

Below are some of the highlights that I heard:

  • Virginia has historically been a “purple state” meaning that both, Republicans and Democrats, had a reasonable chance to carry the state
  • Virginia has now become “purple” with a heavy “blue tint”
  • Republicans continue to win in rural Virginia as they have been in rural America. In the same way, Democrats are winning in urban Virginia as they have been in urban America.
  • The tilt in Virginia is within the suburbs. These areas in Virginia are leaning hard “blue” as the demographics in these areas is becoming increasingly diverse
  • Republicans are likely concerned in Virginia as they have lost both U.S. Senate seats, a majority of the U.S. House seats, the positions of Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General in Virginia, and control of the Virginia House and Senate has slipped
  • The 2019 elections will be significant in terms of control. Currently, the Virginia House consists of 51 – R; 49 – D and the Virginia Senate is at 21 – R; 19 – D
  • It is predicted that there will be four main areas of focus within the General Assembly: Taxes, Gambling/Betting, Interstate-81, and Redistricting
  • Taxes will be debated and discussed within the purview of the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
    • This bill lowered income taxes on individuals but raised deductions
    • These cuts are in place for 5 years
    • Sources say that it is estimated that 94% of Americans will not itemize their federal taxes this year because of the increased deductions
    • This means Virginia can do nothing or have its deductions match the federal deductions
    • If you do nothing, Virginia gets a large boost to its bottom line where the Democratic-led Administration has a set of plans that includes giving money back to those with lower income. The Republican Party pitches that the money should go back to the taxpayers.  There is a strong difference in opinion between the two parties in how the money should be used.
  • Historically, gambling and betting in Virginia has not been viewed favorably
    • Success has been seen with the MGM Casino at the National Harbor
    • A prospective entity is interested in constructing a gambling/betting venue in Bristol
    • Danville, Portsmouth, and Norfolk have also expressed interest in bringing a gambling/betting venue to its area
    • At the end of the day, the amount of economic fruit produced by these venues is hard to turn a blind eye to
  • Interstate 81
    • Many believe I-81 should be expanded to help accommodate the volume of trucks traffic. The question of how to pay for such an endeavor still looms
    • Some have proposed tolls as a source of revenue
    • There is concern for those Virginians who have less financial resources but need to access I-81 routinely. For those, one proposal is to develop a discount rate (let’s say $30/month) that comes with unlimited interstate use.
    • This may work well for those in Southwest Virginia where families typically earn less pay compared to Northern Virginia. But how do legislators who have Northern Virginian constituents respond to that approach when they may pay $30 per day in tolls to use the “Fast Lanes”
  • Redistricting
    • The question is will politicians ever give up their power to have this done independently?
  • The Democrats who won in the Virginia House recently predominantly ran on social equity and advocacy issues. What does silence around running on business and economic development platforms mean for the business climate in Virginia if Democrats take control of the Virginia House and Senate?

What this report says is that there is power in voting.  Regardless of who you vote for or what party you support, exercise your right to vote.  It makes a difference.

Corey Clayborne, AIA
Executive Vice President
AIA Virginia

AIA Virginia Investing an Additional $17k for Qualifications Based Selection Loophole

Government Advocacy is part of the AIA membership. We must engage in legislative and regulatory affairs as it is the steering wheel to controlling your own destiny as professional. It is not an option.

Virginia has a relatively strong QBS process for procuring professional services and the central procuring agency in the state (DGS) continues to embrace the use of QBS. Unfortunately, several local governments, institutions of higher education, and other public bodies in the Commonwealth have taken advantage of exceptions to the QBS process within the VPPA. One specific exemption that we continue to see used is the ability of a local government to adopt its own “procurement act” within which it may choose to use a competitive process that is based on price, as opposed to qualifications.

In partnership with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia, we will engage our lobbyists, Williams Mullen in additional services in an extensive effort to close the loophole. It is expected to be a multi-year effort.

Prior to any outreach, Williams Mullen will perform the necessary legislative research to determine the history of the specific exemption we are seeking to close as well as develop draft legislation that will close the loophole. The legislative effort to close this loophole has many challenges, starting with what we expect to be significant opposition from the Virginia Association of Government Purchasers, the Virginia Association of Counties, the Virginia Municipal League, and many individual local governments. While we plan to work with those entities at the appropriate time, we are fully expecting the need to enter the 2019 General Assembly Session facing significant opposition. In anticipation of this opposition, the lobbying effort will include “in district” one-on-one meetings (prior to the session) with key members of the General Assembly who serve in a leadership position or on the key committees (House and Senate General Laws). Due to the significant turnover, particularly within the House, the one-on-one meetings will be our opportunity to educate legislators (many for the first time) on the importance of QBS.

We will need our members to be ready to engage at the appropriate time in these meetings. Please don’t worry, AIA Virginia will make sure you are prepared to answer the call of duty.

During our education effort, we will be working closely with Chairman Peace and Chairman Ruff with the goal of each serving as a patron in their respective bodies. As long as one or both of the bills are still alive we will continue our lobbying effort through subcommittee, committee, the floor, conference committee, and the Governor’s office.

Corey Clayborne, AIA
Executive Vice President

General Assembly Session Has Ended

The 2018 General Assembly session ended on March 10. During the session, the Joint Legislative Committee vetted approximately 3,000 total bills to extract the relevant ones to our profession. As always, we were proactive in our conversations with legislators, which proved to be very helpful in our efforts. Overall, our industry escaped without major changes. However, there are a number of big conversation topics such as SWaM, the definition of small business, regulatory reduction and qualifications based selection that are certain to reappear in the 2019 session.

So what does that mean?

Two things.

First, contact your local AIA chapter and set up opportunities to meet your local legislators. Make inviting them to your local AIA events normal practice. When they know their constituents are going to be there, they do show up! Use this as a time to get to know one another opposed to asking for a favor. Believe it or not, you may be the only architect that he or she knows personally.

Secondly, please make a donation to the AIA Virginia PAC. The goal for this year is to raise $15,000. Last year we raised approximately $6,000. Our goal has been set this high because that is what we need to improve our effectiveness. From $5 to $500 to $5,000, every contribution helps. Qualifications Based Selection will be under attack and members are experiencing it today firsthand. For example, there is a section in Virginia Code which authorizes local school boards to adopt their own procurement system. Their system asks for the submission of pricing with qualifications. Currently, we are strategizing how to address this in 2019.

Below is the current status of bills. Some have been signed by the Governor and others are in route to his desk.

• HB 97 – Virginia Public Procurement Act; methods of procurement, single or term contracts.
• HB 134 – Value engineering; raises minimum project cost
• HB 192 – Rainwater and gray water; regulations
• SB 125 – Value engineering; raises minimum project cost


• HB 345 – Coastal Adaption and Protection, Special Assistant to the Governor; position created
• HB 523 – Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, etc., Board for, Landscape Architects
• HB 555 – Professions and occupations; hair braiding
• HB 796 – Zoning; modification, etc.; to property for persons with disabilities, board of zoning appeals
• SB 20 – Regulatory reduction pilot program; Department of Planning and Budget to implement, report
• SB 386 – Va. Public Procurement Act; SWaM program, participation of service disabled veteran-owned business.
• SB 651 – Va. Public Procurement Act; executive branch agency’s goals for participation by small businesses
• SB 688 – Va. Public Procurement Act; cooperative procurement, stream restoration and stormwater management


The following depicts the number of bills of interest to the JLC that were introduced, by topic, but did not succeed in 2018:

• Procurement & SWaM: 24
• Building Code/Energy/Resiliency: 5
• Regulatory Reduction: 4
• Design Methodologies: 3
• Tax Reform: 2
• Historic Buildings: 2
• Zoning: 1

For a more detailed analysis of all of the referenced bills, click here. If you have any questions, please feel free to submit them to Corey Clayborne, AIA at

General Assembly Preview

This has been one of the most dramatic election seasons in quite some time.

Control of the Virginia House of Delegates was determined by literally draw by lot.

Delegate David Yancey (R – Newport News) won the draw against Shelly Simonds to determine the winner of the election in House District 94 after the previous recount ended in a tie. This gives the Republicans a 51-49 edge in the House.

The session starts today (January 10) and proposed legislation has been pouring in. Already, there is proposed legislation that suggests that architectural design work should be awarded based solely on the cost of your services. This approach ignores your talents as a design professional with specific expertise and knowledge that benefits the respective client for many years after the project is completed.

The Joint Legislative Committee kicks off its series of bill review meetings on Friday, January 12.  As an AIA Virginia member, we may call upon you to help convey the ramifications of a proposed bill.  Especially, if the bill is targeted at a specific practice area. Let’s come together as a united front and make sure we continue to position ourselves as vital contributors to the built environment!

Want to be involved? Contact Corey Clayborne, AIA at

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.

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.

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.

General Assembly Wrap-Up

Dear AIA Virginia Members,

I’m writing with good news about our advocacy efforts!  We chalked up some big wins this year.

Puts contract negotiation in the negotiation stage for public work

WHY IT MATTERS: Firms were increasingly being required by public bodies to accept terms and conditions when submitting responses to RFPs. Often these T&C were uninsurable, but when objections were raised, firms were being ranked lower. Not only does this have a negative impact on QBS, but it puts both the firms and public bodies at risk. Firms were sometimes taking a gamble by accepting the work when they really needed it, and public bodies thought they had coverage where they didn’t.

Amended to protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of the public

WHY IT MATTERS: Inspired by a national movement to reduce the number of licensed professions, this bill didn’t adequately address HSW concerns in its original form. We worked with a number of other professions to amend it to beef up protections for the public.

Increases transparency so we know what A/E services are being sold by state agencies to other state agencies

WHY IT MATTERS: If state agencies are going to compete with private architecture firms, the information ought to be publically available.

This bill would have allowed local public bodies to purchase the intellectual property or other work of a design build team.

Seems ok at first glance, right? But looking deeper, there were no provisions to address liability issues, price negotiations, and a host of other matters. We worked hard with the sponsor to find solutions, but in the end we couldn’t support this legislation — and our voice made a difference. We’ve offered to work with the sponsor to help craft a good piece of legislation to benefit all for the coming session. We’ll keep you posted.

There were many other bills on our radar. Some we monitored, some we requested technical amendments, and some we laid low on and let others do the heavy lifting. All in all, it was a great year in the legislature — and we’re looking forward to another one next year. The work doesn’t end with the close of the session, though. We’re already beginning to strategize for next year and continuing the work with our partners, allies, and opponents to build coalitions and find compromises.

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

As always, if you’d like to get involved email me at or give me a call at (804) 237-1768.

My best,
Rhea George, Managing Director
AIA Virginia

PS: We won’t have these kinds of successes without your support. Give today at

General Assembly Update: I Tried (and Failed) To Keep It Brief

Things are really moving along now in the General Assembly. All the bills have been filed and are working their way through each of the houses. At this time, we’re actively working or monitoring at least 49 bills, with a few more still to be evaluated by the Government and Industry Affairs and Joint Legislative Committees.

There are two licensure bills that we’ve been closely watching. The first bill, HB499, has the potential to open the door to unlicensed practice. We’re collaborating with several other professions to recommend amendments to sure up protections for the health, safety and welfare of the public and we feel fairly confident that this amendment will be accepted by the bill’s patron. The other, (HB838), likely arose out of the “ban the box” movement and is related to disclosure of criminal history. This bill is expected to be continued to the 2017 session.

There are a number of bills that will be of interest to small firms. We’re following four bills related to health care/benefits requirements for small businesses. Several bills this session were designed to close a loophole which opened up when the federal government redefined what constitutes a small business relative to the Affordable Care Act. (Since Virginia was already in alignment with the Act, this change left a number of small businesses in a difficult spot.) There was broad support across the aisle in both houses and HB58 was signed by the Governor on Jan. 26. Two other bills are related to leave requirements. SB274 and HB7 require private employers to provide paid sick days. HB7 has already been tabled and the SB274 has been assigned to committee. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.

Two bills redefining what qualifies as a small business are under consideration and could substantially impact those small businesses who do work with the Commonwealth. HB971 arose out of a workgroup which studied the issue following the last session. SB119 simply aligns Virginia’s definitions with the federal SBA definitions. We’re also studying how HB130 might impact those firms who operate as LLCs.

Of course, public procurement and Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) continue to be issues that capture our attention. Twenty of the bills we’re watching are – in one way or another – related to these topics. Much of our work on procurement this session has been focused on ensuring that contract negotiation actually takes place in the negotiation stage of the procurement process. We’ve worked closely with procurement professionals across the state and feel hopeful that, in addition to some progress on the legislative front, we’ll have the opportunity to engage in some joint educational programming.

There are a handful of bills related to the advertising requirements of RFPs, transportation, water managements, building code and even teacher licensure that we’re tracking relative to our legislative agenda put forward in the Virginia Accord.

As always, we welcome your participation as a member of our Government and Industry Affairs group. Email if you’d like to get involved.

General Assembly Preview – I Swear It’s Not Boring

Launching what is certain to be an interesting year in politics, the 2016 General Assembly session formally begins on Wed., Jan. 13 at noon. Though millions of dollars were spent by both major parties in the November election last year, there was very little change in the composition of each of the Houses. Some changes in leadership on the Republican side, however, mean we’re likely to encounter a few new faces on key committees. Tensions are expected to run high between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and the governor over the budget. Add the upcoming presidential election into the mix, and we can likely look forward to a pretty exciting legislative season.

Using the principles of the Virginia Accord as our guide, we’ll continue our work from the last session to strengthen QBS in Virginia’s procurement act and to clarify the process by which objections to terms and conditions are addressed. We’re monitoring a number of bills that may impact firms ― particularly small businesses ― relative to health care plans, taxation, and paid leave. We’re also keeping our eyes on a number of bills related to licensure, livability, and sustainability. And that’s all before the pre-filing final deadline of Jan. 22.

The AIA Virginia Government and Industry Affairs Committee and the ACEC/AIA Virginia Joint Legislative Council have been monitoring legislation as it is introduced. These two entities work actively throughout the session to evaluate bills and take action on those impacting the profession.

Looking forward, we may call upon members to contact their legislators in support or opposition to legislation – particularly constituents of key lawmakers. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Rhea George.