AIA Leadership and Legislative Conference Report

by TruexCullins, March 28, 2012

posted by Diantha S. Korzun, AIA Vermont President

Diantha recently returned from the American Institute of Architects’ 2012 Leadership and Legislative Conference, held March 7-10, 2012 at the Grant Hyatt in Washington, DC.

For three days in Washington DC, the AIA executive components convene in the nation’s capital.  The goal is to express a collective voice to members of Congress about the importance architectural design has on our communities.  

Through design, architects can enhance the quality of life for the public.  There is also a responsibility to enforce the health, safety, and welfare of our communities.  The theme of the conference this year was Leadership, Advocacy, and Communication.  All are qualities an architect should possess in order to promote public awareness of the importance of architecture.  This year that is what our contingent from AIA VT set out to do. Carol Miklos (Executive Director), Thomas Bachman (President Elect), Michael Hoffman (AIA NE Secretary/Treasurer) and I went to Washington DC this spring to not only promote the profession to the Congressmen, but also improve our own skills in effectively advocating the profession in our region.

In Washington, the four bills that we found applicable to Vermont architectural firms and therefore discussed with our Congressmen included:

  • Remove Barriers to the Private Sector Lending. (HR 1356) The AIA supports legislation that will continue to improve the commercial lending market and allow worthwhile projects to have access to capital.
  • Save Energy, Create Jobs.  (1798 Deduction)  AIA encourages the support of a bipartisan effort to expand the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction.  This should incentivize energy efficient new construction projects through increasing the tax deduction for Green Buildings.
  • Help Small Business Thrive. (HR 3987)  Since 95% of AIA member firms are under 50 employees, AIA wants to ensure these firms are protected under the Small Business Protection Act so that they still have funding under the SBA program.
  • Pass a Transportation Bill to Get our Communities Moving Again.  The Senate has created a bill to support a variety of transportation spending.  AIA encourages Congressman to pass a bill to authorize and reform federal transportation programs to maintain current funding, support all modes of transportation, and recognize many long term benefits of well-designed and well planned projects.

We are fortunate our current Congressmen support these issues and therefore do not need to be persuaded to back them.  However, it was productive to discuss local examples of projects and firms that are directly impacted by these bills so they have a better understanding of their constituents.

At a local level, this year, AIA Vermont will advocate architectural design through programs that address the theme for the year, Design of Place.  Programs include the AIA New England Conference hosted in Burlington this fall and the AIA VT/NH Annual Meeting/Tours at Bennington College this spring.  (See relevant articles about both events in the current issue of AIA VT.) 

In addition, the AIA Vermont Public Policy Subcommittee is already enthusiastically discussing ways to advocate the profession to our Vermont legislature.  They have held several meetings, including a gathering of interested members earlier this month to survey the membership about current issues.  

Through Advocacy, Leadership and Communication AIA VT will promote architectural design and issues at a national level as well as a local level this year.  If you are interested in joining the effort, please contact Carol Miklos, AIA VT Executive Director.

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