Architects continue success at the state and local level
AIA components blaze a trail of legislative wins in state capitals across the country.
State components of the American Institute of Architects continue winning major legislative victories at the state level. From ensuring school safety to protecting professional licensure to preserving state historic tax credits, architects are a force to be reckoned with in state capitals.
New York, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa and Indiana are just a few of the state components making major legislative gains for architects that also benefit the public at large. Here’s the short list of architecture wins by issue:
AIA New York State was instrumental in getting its state legislature to extend the State Historic Tax Credit to 2024. The component joined forces with the Preservation League of New York State to extend and protect the credit as part of the state budget agreement. As a result of their efforts, the credit will now be preserved at the same value it was in the federal tax code before tax reform legislation was signed into law in December. “The Historic Tax Credit is a vital tool in urban renewal,” notes AIA New York State President Kirk Narburgh, AIA. “New York can now serve as a model for other states seeking to protect the efficacy of the HTC.”
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, the AIA state component championed a proposal to significantly increase the limit on its state historic tax credit awards from $500,000 to $3.5 million per parcel. The legislation, Senate Bill 668, was approved overwhelmingly by both the Assembly and Senate. The Governor is expected to sign it into law later this month.
AIA Maryland campaigned hard to get legislation passed that places Maryland architects on better footing with out-of-state competitors. The bill—passed without a single dissenting vote—will provide increased opportunities for Maryland architects bidding on state contracts. When signed by the governor, the legislation will ensure that more money awarded in state contracts goes to Maryland-based firms.
In the wake of a succession of school shootings, architects in Iowa took a prominent stand in supporting legislation requiring public and non-public schools to develop safety plans for school classrooms no later than June 30, 2019. The plans must include responses to active-shooter situations in addition to natural disasters and would require all school personnel to conduct at least one emergency drill in each building.
AIA Indiana members lobbied their representatives to defeat well-intentioned legislation that would have resulted in favoring lawsuits over licensure requirements in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Touted as a way to reduce entry costs into a profession, and provide greater access to those looking to join the workforce, the bill required a small business ombudsmen to determine whether the least restrictive means were being used to regulate a profession based on a set of inflexible guidelines.
AIA state components have also promoted social causes and recognized culturally relevant and responsible design.
AIA Pennsylvania worked with state representatives to introduce a resolution recognizing the efforts of the architectural community to promote equity, diversity and inclusion. The resolution acknowledged the challenges the profession faced in creating a path for minorities and women to become architects, but also recognized the progress the state component has made, such as the formation of the AIA Pennsylvania Strategic Council and the Paula Maynes Architect Registration Examinations (ARE) Grant for recent graduates pursuing licensure.
In Nebraska, the AIA state component succeeded in getting the state to pass a resolution celebrating the 2018 Whitney Young Award recipient, Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA. A member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, Eagle Bull is being recognized for her contributions to positive social change through her efforts in the preservation and respectful representation of Native American culture within tribal nation-built environments.
Architects are also helping to shape their communities by creating opportunities for local businesses and working to improve the quality of life for new and lifelong residents.
In Indianapolis, a group of design professionals—including AIA architects and neighborhood residents-- is working on ways to improve the design of the I-65 and I-70 split on the city's north side. The state’s preliminary plans called for widening some of the highways and bridges and building concrete walls bordering the interstate at the split. Architects say the plan would harm the eight surrounding historic neighborhoods by further dividing downtown Indianapolis and creating more noise, pollution and traffic.
Architect Mark Beebe has proposed moving traffic below ground to open up more land for development or removing the highways that cross through the downtown altogether, as some other cities have done. “The INDOT plan also fails to recognize a future where the city likely won't be as dependent on cars,” Beebe told the Indianapolis Star.
“We’re at a transitional moment in the Institute’s history, when AIA National and its components are refocusing on empowering our members to speak up to ensure policy-makers hear architects’ voices on our issues across the country,” notes AIA Senior Vice President of Advocacy & Relationships Sarah Dodge. “We will be unveiling even more capacity-building initiatives as we head into the fall mid-terms and look to strengthen the AIA’s influence and reach in state capitals across the country.”
Anne Law is AIA Director and Counsel, State and Local Policy .