Issues & AdvocacyIssues & Advocacy
February 10, 2011 – Special Grassroots Recap
In this issue:
Last week, President Obama unveiled his plan to encourage businesses to become more energy efficient. By incentivizing the business community, the "Better Buildings" Initiative aims to make commercial buildings 20 percent more efficient by the year 2020.
Understanding the unique role architects will play in this endeavor, the Obama administration immediately reached out to the AIA. Michelle Moore, who serves as the White House Federal Environmental Executive, attended the AIA's annual Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference. She addressed over 600 architects, calling on them to partner with the President and others in their communities to help these goals become realized.
Moore noted, "We're looking forward to THIS community as being an extraordinarily important partnership making sure that all the potential of the Better Buildings Initiative is realized."
The plan seeks to:
The proposal will be detailed further in the President's budget, which is expected to be released next week. For more information, please click here.
As hundreds of AIA members prepared to go to Capitol Hill last week and advocate for repeal of the Form 1099 paperwork burden, the Senate approved an amendment to strike it from law on a bipartisan 81-17 vote. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), mirrored previous amendments offered by Sens. Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Her amendment also updates the cost to $22 billion over 10 years and sets aside $44 billion in unused, previously-appropriated funds to ensure that the repeal's cost is covered.
The vote comes as good news to proponents of the 1099 repeal, but it is not the final stop for the provision. The amendment repealing the provision is attached to a larger Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that has recently stalled in the Senate. The legislation was brought up under open-amendment rules, which enabled senators to offer up nearly four dozen amendments -- thus far -- dealing with a range of topics (e.g., health care repeal, the Davis-Bacon Act covering wages for public projects) in addition to aviation issues. Debate is expected to continue through this week, and Senate leaders believe that the bill should be ready for a final Senate vote next week. Once the bill has cleared the Senate, it must be reconciled with a House-passed version of FAA reauthorization.
Elimination of the paperwork burden was one of four key issues the AIA took to Capitol Hill during its Grassroots conference last week. While the Senate had already voted on the amendment, AIA members had a chance to urge the House to follow the Senate's lead on the issue.
While the AIA is optimistic that the FAA reauthorization bill will pass, as always, things remain fluid on Capitol Hill, and there is always a possibility that unexpected circumstances may arise. The AIA will continue to urge Congress to eliminate this paperwork burden until there is a final vote doing so.
For more information, contact Christina Finkenhofer, manager, Federal Relations.
During Grassroots, architect-advocates heard from three federal leaders on opportunities for design. Les Shepard, AIA is the chief architect of the General Services Administration. He spoke about the successful integration of design in GSA buildings across the country. He also spoke about the Design Excellence Program, which the GSA uses for making design selections. There is a two-step selection process. First, through qualification and second, through peer review which generates feedback to the architect. Shepard encouraged architects who have never submitted a project to GSA to consider it. There is a graduated process for qualifications, in addition to a review process if you do not get the job. Subsequently, members commented that the review process was invaluable and had helped them gain future work with GSA.
The second speaker, Courtney Gregoire, director of the National Export Initiative, International Trade Administration at the Department of Commerce, outlined the Administration's goal to double exports in the next five years. Exports refer not only to products, but to services as well. Architectural services have been targeted as a top-20 growth area for this push.
Gregoire focused her comments on Commerce's outreach into local US communities. There are over 70 offices throughout the United State, which can help you determine how to expand your practice internationally. If you are international or want country-specific information, the Department of Commerce can also help you with a variety of resources. Gregoire wanted to ensure that components are aware of the opportunities abroad and is looking for opportunities to partner with you. Please let us know if we can assist you in making these connections.
Finally, Christine Koronides, senior policy advisor at the US Small Business Administration spoke. Koronides focused on the support that the SBA can provide small practices. She focused on business counseling, loan development and opportunities for specific types of small businesses. The SBA provides services throughout the United States, and sometimes, in conjunction with the Department of Commerce. Koronides also wants to conduct outreach to components. Please contact Jessica Salmoiraghi with these requests as AIA National is developing a plan to make these connections.
In addition, Thomas Vonier, FAIA and Helen Hatch, FAIA led a delegation to the Department of Commerce for a briefing on international markets. Commerce briefed the International Advisory Committee on architectural opportunities in Brazil and India and shared how it can assist exports and work together with architects to gain insight into the process. Finally, potential trade mission opportunities were discussed and how architects could gain greater access to high level delegations.
For more information, contact Jessica Salmoiraghi, director, Federal Regulatory Relations.
Kicking off 2011 with a bang, ArchiPAC broke all previous fundraising records at last week's 2011 Grassroots. Over 70 percent of attendees made an investment in ArchiPAC, the AIA's only federal political action committee, raising more than $43,000. In addition, the ArchiPAC Steering Committee announced a 2011 regional goal program and released ArchiPAC's first-ever annual report for 2010.
ArchiPAC, the mechanism through which AIA members build relationships with national leaders and candidates, is run solely through voluntary contributions from AIA members and staff. Showing that it doesn't take large amounts of money to make architects' collective voice heard through ArchiPAC, the vast majority of contributions made last week were under $100, with many contributions $50 or less.
With a national push to get members to give a dime a day ($36.50) for the year to ArchiPAC, 2011 ArchiPAC Chair James E. Rains, Jr., AIA, told attendees, "A dime a day is all it takes. I'm not much with math…but a dime doesn't sound like it will do a lot. But when you invest it in ArchiPAC…it ensures when the conversations happen that impact our future, we will be part of that conversation."
In addition to urging attendees to make a contribution while at Grassroots, Rains set the tone for ArchiPAC's activities for the remainder of the year. In addition to releasing the 2010 Annual Report, the ArchiPAC Committee introduced a regional goal program (based on the Texas Architects' Committees local chapter goal program) to accomplish the national goal of raising $200,000 in 2011.
"It won't take much to get there," said Rains. "If only 10 percent of each AIA region's total membership gives a dime a day, we will raise $285,360 this year."
The AIA's Center for Civic Leadership (CCL) presented "Living Your Life as a Citizen Architect" at this year's Grassroots. This workshop provided information for component leaders to empower and enable them to develop Citizen Architect and Leadership programs and, in addition, it highlighted the value of community engagement and offered a compelling discussion on how architects can lead and influence the ongoing civic conversation.
This workshop focused on key initiatives of the CCL, with presentations on the creation of local chapter Citizen Architect programs; the use "Living Your Life as a Leader" (a leadership resource document developed to encourage and support AIA members pursuing leadership skills across and beyond the architectural profession); and local chapter leadership development efforts. Furthermore, the session highlighted the importance of leadership training and of creating local programs empowering architects to expand their influence on the communities in which they live, work, and play.
F. Michael Ayles, AIA (past chair of the AIA's Committee on Leadership Education and a member of the Center for Civic Leadership) and Georgia Abernathy, AIA (president, AIA Charlotte, and also a member of the CCL) discussed "Living Your Life as a Leader" can be used to educate architects on their leadership strengths. Beyond its patent purpose, this resource provides definitions of leadership, case studies, a workbook to develop leadership skills, and numerous other beneficial tools.
The second part of the program, led by Mark Gangi, AIA, NCARB, LEED-AP (past president, AIA Pasadena & Foothill and chair of that chapter's Citizen Architect Committee), defined the term "citizen architects" and outlined how they should use their expertise to become involved in their communities. Gangi discussed the great strides they have made in Pasadena over the last year within their Citizen Architect Committee, which served as an excellent case study example on how chapters could develop their own committees.
Douglas Richards, AIA, LEED AP (past president, AIA Cincinnati) rounded out events by speaking about AIA Cincinnati's innovative VISION initiative. The program is a 10‐month long leadership track designed especially for architects licensed less than 10 years who want to gain the skills necessary to advance to higher levels within the architectural profession. Participants are established in their careers and recognized as leaders with great potential within their practice.
For more information, contact Brooks Rainwater, director, Local Relations.
On February 1-2, the AIA State Relations team welcomed State Government Network (SGN) members to AIA National's offices for the group's 20th Annual Meeting. Forty-five different state or territorial components were represented.
This year, the hottest topics of discussion among members were interior design, procurement, and stock school plans, and it is expected that all three will continue to be important topics of discussion throughout the year.
This is not to say that those were only issues of concern for those in attendance. During the two-day meeting, members discussed numerous other issues, including:
SGNers also examined best practices that state components have employed in recent policy battles, with particular attention paid to:
The meeting concluded just as Grassroots proper was kicking off with an overview by AIA National's research department on the updated State Economic Profiles made available to each state; and with representatives of AIA Georgia sharing a piece on their take on the newly-revised and reissued "The Architect as a Legislative Resource" pamphlet.
For more information, contact Chris Merriam, manager, State Issues and Programs.
Grassroots follow-up resources are available on Advocacy365. Among these resource are:
In addition, we have posted a schedule of when the congressional recesses are scheduled to occur in 2011. We hope AIA components will schedule follow-up appointments in their respective districts with their Members of Congress -- many of whom were in the district during this year's Grassroots.
For more information about Grassroots, contact Adam Melis, director, Advocacy Outreach.
William Talley, AIA (left), of Virginia speaks with Steven Winkel, FAIA, after a Grassroots workshop on the impacts of the International Green Construction Code on the practice of architecture. To view the presentation, click here, or for more information, contact Mark Wills, manager, Codes Advocacy. (Photo courtesy of Arin Resnicke, AIA)
As the 112th Congress gears up, both parties are looking to show the public they are concerned about the ballooning budget deficit, which the Congressional Budget Office reported last week will rise to nearly $1.5 trillion in this fiscal year. But with very divergent ideas on how to cut spending, the spring looks to be a contentious period on Washington.
President Obama outlined his ideas in last week's State of the Union address, calling for an innovation agenda that will enable the country to "out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world." While proposing new spending in some areas, such as education, training and infrastructure, he also called for a five-year partial spending freeze.
This was met with skepticism from Republicans, particularly new House Budget Committee Chairmen Paul Ryan (R-WI), who gave the GOP response to the President's address. Ryan has called for a rollback of federal spending to 2008 levels. But in a sign of the political volatility on Capitol Hill, many new Tea Party-backed freshmen have said this does not go far enough; some lawmakers want a return to much lower 2006 funding levels.
The jockeying over program funding highlights the fact that, as Obama budget director Jacob Lew noted in a February 6 New York Times op-ed piece, the easy cuts are gone. Lew cited the fact that Obama is proposing cuts to community service block grants and the Community Development Block Grant program -- two initiatives the president has long championed -- as evidence that the White House is willing to go after sacred cows. Yet this will not be enough for Republicans; last week House Budget Chairman Ryan announced that he wants to reduce spending at the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 by 17 percent from the year before.
Observers note that the alphabet soup of government programs -- from HUD to NASA to the National Park Service (referred in DC parlance as non-defense discretionary funding) -- represents only 15 percent of the federal budget. The largest spending comes from interest on the debt and from entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. The fact that few policymakers in Washington are talking about cutting these programs demonstrate the political challenges in cutting popular programs. However, as the clock tricks toward the March 4 date when the current funding authority for government programs expires, both sides are girding for a potentially ugly fight on reducing spending without alienating the electorate.
For more information, contact Andrew Goldberg, Assoc. AIA, senior director, Federal Relations.
Last month, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the Solar Decathlon will not be held on the National Mall, as it has since its inception in 2002. This biennial event "challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive" and showcases the best in innovation and promotes an integrated approach to solving our nation's problems.
The AIA believes that moving the site would greatly diminish the success of the event due to the diminished visibility and project effectiveness. Not only does the National Mall lend its gravitas as a national symbol to the event, but it is also a high-profile, high visibility location, which certainly contributes greatly to the extensive media coverage, high level of public participation and overall impact of the event. Furthermore, moving the site at this late date in the process will charge the participating college teams with unnecessary challenges and hardships, as they must now account for new site requirements, different geographic coordinates, weather implications, etc. Many do not have the time or money available to make these accommodations to ensure the overall success of their houses.
The rationale given for moving the event is the deteriorating condition of the Mall and conflict with the Mall restoration plans, more specifically the impact the event has on the turf. Backers of the Decathlon argue that this is confusing because the turf restoration is not scheduled to occur until after the Decathlon was over. Additionally, the AIA, which has been involved with the development of the National Mall Plan and wholeheartedly supports it, believes that there are ways, working with architects and landscape architects, to decrease the impact to the turf.
Please visit the Advocacy Center, if you wish to contact your Members of Congress to ask them to increase pressure on Secretary Chu (Department of Energy) and Secretary Salazar (Interior Department, which governs the National Park Service) to reverse this decision and keep the Solar Decathlon where it belongs: on the National Mall.
For more information, contact Billie Kaumaya, manager, Federal Regulatory Relations.
The Angle Archive:
January 20, 2011
January 6, 2011
December 16, 2010 -- Advocacy 2010: Year in Review
December 2, 2010
November 18, 2010
November 4, 2010 -- Design Decision 2010
October 21, 2010
October 7, 2010
September 23, 2010
September 9, 2010
August 12, 2010 -- Mid Year Report
July 29, 2010
July 15, 2010
July 1, 2010
June 17, 2010
June 3, 2010
May 20, 2010
May 6, 2010
April 22, 2010
April 8, 2010
March 25, 2010
March 11, 2010
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