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The Angle

July 29, 2010
Government Issues New Rules on Accessible Design, Webinar on Federal Definition of “Small Business,” Application Period Open for SDATS, and more…

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Contact | Federal Relations | State Relations | Communities by Design |
Local Relations
| Advocacy Center | Advocacy365

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Washington Report

Communities by Design

State News Round-Up

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Washington Report

Voice your opinion: How do you feel about the government’s current definition of a small business?
   

The U.S. Small Business Administration is undergoing a review of the government’s definition of a “small business” and evaluating the existing size standards for every industry and profession. Currently, architecture firms are categorized as a small business when average annual receipts are equal to or less than $4.5 million. The AIA is hosting a webinar on Thursday, August 5th to discuss this issue, and we want your opinion. The details are below. If you are unable to participate at this time, please feel free to send your comments to govaffs@aia.org.

When: Thursday, August 5, 2010 (2:00pm – 3:00pm ET)
To register, click here.

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    For questions on this webinar, contact Billie Kaumaya, manager, Federal Regulatory Relations.

U.S. government issues final rule on new standards for accessible design
   

Attorney General Eric Holder has issued two final rules that update the Department of Justice’s ADA regulations, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  These revisions, which amend the Title II and III regulations, will apply to additional facility types and sites, including recreational and municipal facilities, offer supplemental changes to the architectural accessibility standards and include a safe harbor provision for facilities built or altered based on the 1991 Standards.  Although these rules take effect in six months, compliance will not be required until 18 months after the publication date.  

This fall, The Angle will feature a more extensive review of these standards and breakdown the implications for architects.

DOJ fact sheets on the rules may be found Department's website.

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AIA calls on Congress to act on access to credit
   

As Senators continued struggling this week to pass legislation to provide more loans to small businesses, the AIA called on Congress to put partisanship aside and pass legislation to make credit more available for design and construction projects.

The Senate bill, the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010 (HR 5297), would create a $30 billion fund for banks to lend to small businesses. The legislation passed the House last month with an AIA-backed amendment to increase credit from small community banks. But it has been held up in the Senate by a disagreement between the two parties over how many amendments Republicans can offer to the bill. One of the proposed amendments, from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), would repeal a provision from the recently enacted health care law that requires businesses to file Form 990s on any purchase over $600. The AIA, which supports Johanns’ amendment, has asked members to call their Senators to support the amendment if it comes to a vote. (Click here to contact your Senators.)

Meanwhile the House is scheduled today to take up legislation, H.R. 5893, which would provide $4 billion to extend the Build America Bonds program for two years beyond its scheduled December expiration date. The Bond program provides funding for state and local governments to invest in infrastructure projects. Reports suggest that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) may try to offer an amendment to the Senate small business bill that also would extend the Build America Bonds.

The Bonds were part of the so-called “extenders” bill that Congress debated earlier this summer that also would have increased payroll taxes on architecture and other professional services S corporations.  However, neither the House bill nor the Senate proposal on Build America Bonds includes the S corporation tax increase.

With the House expected to leave Washington for its August recess at the end of this week, the small business credit bill will have to wait until September to be enacted.

AIA-Backed Covered Bonds Bill Passes House Committee
The House Financial Services gave unanimous approval to AIA-backed legislation that would create a market for covered bonds. A type of bond used largely for real estate investments that is far less risky than other kinds of investments, covered bonds have been successfully employed in many European economies for decades. H.R.4884, the United States Covered Bond Act of 2010, introduced by Reps. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), would establish a U.S. covered bond market.

The AIA testified in support of the bill in May. It now goes to the full House for debate, most likely in September.

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    For questions on the AIA’s activities related to small businesses and access to credit, contact the Federal Relations team.

It’s August: time to meet with your Congressional leaders
   

The August Congressional Recess is starting, with U.S. Representatives heading home this weekend and Senators following next week. For the rest of August, members of Congress will be in their states and districts campaigning for re-election and spending time talking with constituents. This is a perfect opportunity for AIA members to meet with their elected leaders and discuss such important issues as access to credit, energy legislation, and tax increase proposals for S corporations. In addition, it is a good time to share your outlook on the local economic climate and construction industry with your members of Congress, giving them a perspective they might otherwise not see. More information on these legislative issues and how to set up a meeting with your legislators is available on the AIA’s Advocacy365 website.

All components are encouraged to try to set up a meeting with their members of Congress before the fall elections. If you schedule a meeting, please let the AIA Government Relations team know.

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    For questions on the resources available, please contact Adam Melis, director, Advocacy Outreach.

Sustainable Design Assessment Team application period now open
   

The Center for Communities by Design is pleased to announce the release of the 2011 Sustainable Design Assessment Team Application Packet. The final deadline to submit proposals for consideration in the 2011 SDAT program is November 19, 2010.  Recipient communities will be notified of their application’s acceptance in December of 2010. Submittals from past successful applicants can be found on our webpage; you can also view additional materials generated by SDAT teams, including final reports and presentations, by following that link. The Center will schedule a public teleconference in association with the 2011 Application process in September 2010. To sign up and participate in the call, please contact the Center for Communities by Design at communitiesbydesign@aia.org.

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NCSL: opportunity for outreach
   

Legislators from around the country – and around the world – gathered in Louisville July 25-28 for the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) annual Legislative Summit. During the meeting, which heralded NCSL’s 35th anniversary, state legislators, legislative staff, and government relations professionals from across the business spectrum discussed many an issue – from the environment to education to the still-sluggish economy -- and particularly as they related to the nexus between federal and state sovereignty.

AIA staff attended the Summit to further the Institute’s policies within both the legislative and business communities. Notable among these efforts was the raising of a policy resolution, “Greening the Built Environment,” within the conference’s Environment Committee. The policy, authored (in large part) by AIA staff and co-sponsored by Sens. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-VA) (the panel’s immediate past chair) and Harris McDowell (D-DE), would have, if recommended for adoption in committee, established NCSL’s support for the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) and other activities (e.g., increased energy efficiency) that are involved in establishing minimum requirements for building design, construction, and operation practices that incorporate an expanded view of safety into building codes. The committee was backlogged with old business, however, and was unable to discuss the measure in full. (A related resolution, “Healthy, Efficient, Green Schools,” met a similar fate.)

Even though these policies were not passed through by the Environment Committee, AIA staff is working with Sen. Whipple, the U.S. Green Building Council, and NCSL staff to educate state legislators regarding the many facets of sustainable building policy. One potential – if not likely – venue for the culmination of these efforts may be during the conference’s Fall Forum in Phoenix in December. Stay tuned to The Angle for news on further developments as they arise.

In addition, AIA staff initiated discussions with external groups to initiate potential advocacy partnerships on issues as wide-ranging as sustainability, taxes on architectural services, reciprocity of architectural licensure between jurisdictions, and heightening AIA member architects’ awareness of tax breaks available to them vis-à-vis energy-efficient building practices.

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    For additional information, contact Mark Wills, manager, State Issues and Programs.

In the next Angle…
   

We’ll be taking a look at what’s happened in advocacy from the AIA’s perspective the first half of 2010 in the August 12th issue of The Angle. After that, we’ll be taking a hiatus from publication for August, but will be back on September 9 to our regular bi-weekly release schedule.

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The Angle Archive:

The Angle is published by the AIA Government and Community Relations Department, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20006. To contact The Angle, send an email to govaffs@aia.org.

 

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