AIA Grassroots Annual Leadership and Legislative Conference

by TruexCullins, March 9, 2010

The AIA Grassroots Annual Leadership and Legislative Conference was held in the beginning of February 2010 this year in Washington DC.   As indicated in the title, the conference provides leadership training for the architectural community as well as leadership training to engage the greater political community.  The conference also allows for a day on Capitol Hill to discuss state issues with Congressmen.  Each year, AIA Vermont (as well as the other states in the nation) sends its Executive Committee to the conference to participate.
The AIA Vermont Contingent (Daniel Johnson, Diantha Korzun (from TruexCullins), Lauren Davis, Michael Hoffman and Hanne Williams) met with Congressman Peter Welch, Senator Sanders and Senator Patrick Leahy’s staff.  There were five key issues discussed at each of the meetings that included:
1. Green Schools.  The AIA encourages government policies and programs that spur the creation of high performance, 21st century schools.  Specifically, the AIA promotes the 21st Century Green High Performing Public School Facilities Act. Legislation would provide 6.4 billion in grants to states and local school districts.
2. Freezing Credit.  The AIA supports policies that ensure credit is available for commercial development projects that create jobs and rebuild communities.  The proposal was to restore liquidity to credit markets by extending the deadline for the Term Asset Backed Securities Loan Facility through the end of 2011.
3. Renewing Communities.  The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, targets funding to communities in need.  The AIA is promoting using the CDBG as a vehicle for funding community-building projects with federal money.
4. Energy Efficient Tax Deductions.  The AIA promotes legislation that enlarges the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction from the current $1.80 per square foot to $3.00 per square foot as contained in the Expanding Building Energy Incentives Act.
5. Relief for Small Business.  The AIA is urging Congress to support the Small Business Financing and Investment Act and taking steps to relieve the burdens of COBRA.  The bill would help small business secure loans, and gain access to larger amounts of capital.
The National AIA offers support information and research into current bills so that state components can specifically address current legislation as well as offer deeper background expertise in areas of critical interest in the profession.  In particular, our Vermont contingent was very impressed by the preparations Bernie Sanders had made for the meeting and the time he spent with our group despite the votes being cast in the room next door.
In addition to the leadership workshops and our day on Capitol Hill, Hanne Williams was given tribute at the AIA New England dinner, the CACE workshop, and at a General Session for her 40 years of service.

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