AIA Minnesota Government Affairs 2018 Legislative Priorities

The AIA Minnesota Government Affairs committee created the following legislative priorities for the 2018 session, which have been approved by the AIA Minnesota board.

Bonding Bill: AIA Minnesota advocates for sustained investment in the creation and preservation of publicly funded structures in Minnesota through bonding. Bonding bills should recognize the realities of the design and construction process, the importance of funding maintenance and asset preservation, and the public benefits of reliable bonding cycles and processes. Public buildings should demonstrate advanced sustainability strategies, resource efficiency, community responsiveness, and attention to human health and well-being.

Project Delivery:  AIA Minnesota believes architects are uniquely qualified and positioned to lead the definition and development of projects and provide architectural services for all project delivery methods.

P3: The Public Private Partnership (P3) is an alternative approach to financing and delivery of public projects. Delivering design, construction, operation, and/or maintenance services is inherently complex – particularly so in the context of vertical construction. AIA Minnesota has significant concerns as to whether P3 is the right approach for Minnesota, including the degree to which client and end-user needs would remain primary, how to ensure transparency in governmental financing of public buildings, and how profits for the private financing entity would be generated over time. Rigorous, objective analysis of this approach is necessary – including what has gone well and where problems have arisen in P3 implementations around the nation and the world – with a focus on the interests of owners, end-users, and the general public, and including comparative analysis of P3 and other project delivery options currently available under Minnesota law. 

Tax Policies & Incentives:  AIA Minnesota supports tax and regulatory policies that foster the financial success of architecture firms and members of the profession, in the context of a fair tax code and the economic well-being of all Minnesotans. AIA Minnesota opposes expansion of the sales tax in Minnesota to include professional services. AIA Minnesota supports efforts to ensure the goals of key tax incentives that have promoted energy efficiency, resilience, historic preservation, affordable housing, and community and economic development continue to be achieved – through continued or expanded tax incentives or other measures – in the State of Minnesota’s response to tax changes at the Federal level.  

Housing: AIA Minnesota supports governmental policies, programs, and incentives to promote the design, construction, renovation, rehabilitation, preservation and stabilization of safe, healthy, affordable, sustainable and resilient housing within the means of all people. In addition, AIA Minnesota supports regional, non-traditional, holistic approaches to solving the housing crisis, and advocates for the benefits of higher density housing near transit.

Energy Efficiency, Sustainability & Resilience: AIA Minnesota supports governmental and private sector policies and programs – including the development, evaluation, and use of codes, standards and evidence-based rating systems – that promote the design, preservation, and construction of sustainable communities and high-performance buildings. AIA Minnesota supports efforts to achieve carbon neutral new construction and major renovations by 2030 (the B3/SB2030 program) and a carbon neutral built environment by 2050. AIA Minnesota supports policies, programs, and practices that promote adaptable and resilient buildings and communities, with built environments that reduce harm and property damage, adapt to evolving conditions, and more readily, effectively and efficiently recover from adverse events. AIA Minnesota supports the active involvement of architects in disaster assistance efforts, providing valuable insights and aid to communities before, during, and after a destructive event.

Equity in Education: AIA Minnesota is actively working to build and mentor a diverse, inclusive, equitable profession of architecture. AIA Minnesota supports efforts to eliminate disparities in PreK-12 educational opportunities, resources, and graduation rates. AIA Minnesota supports strengthened funding levels for the University of Minnesota, in particular as related to concerns about the affordability of the education necessary to become a licensed architect in the state of Minnesota.

Qualifications Based Selection:  AIA Minnesota supports public policies, requirements, and administrative procedures in procurement processes – including the work of the State Designer Selection Board and any publicly-funded agency or organization in Minnesota – that mandate the open selection of architects on based on qualifications. AIA Minnesota opposes hiring of architects on the basis of fees. AIA Minnesota supports periodic review of the operations of the State Designer Selection Board to ensure the goals of qualifications based selection are well implemented by the Board.

Tort Reform: AIA Minnesota supports governmental policies and reforms to minimize lawsuit abuse and to promote the administration of a fair civil liability legal system, including Emergency Responder (Good Samaritan) legislation that provides architects with liability protection for providing professional services in response to a declared state of emergency.

AIA and AIA Minnesota are committed to values-based advocacy. This is where we stand—today and every day.

We stand for equity and human rights. Access to good design is a fundamental right, and architects are the agents of change to make this right a reality. We stand for human and civil rights, the universal respect for human dignity, and the unbiased treatment of all persons in employment, civic, and business transactions regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical abilities, or religious practices. Our commitment to tolerance is evidenced not just by the policies we adopt, but in the words we speak, the actions we take, and the buildings we design. This is why we advocate for protecting and expanding laws that reflect these values, such as fair housing policies, civil rights protections, and accessibility to the built environment for all.

We stand for architecture that strengthens our communities. Infrastructure is more than roads and bridges. It is the public buildings that are the bedrock of our communities—like schools, hospitals, libraries, police and fire stations, parks and government buildings. For too long, policymakers allowed these spaces to deteriorate, reducing safety and diminishing the quality of life for millions across the nation. Architects are uniquely positioned to guide policymakers to make informed decisions about reinvesting in our communities’ essential buildings and spaces. That is why we advocate for policies that invest in well-designed civic infrastructure.

We stand for a sustainable future. At a time when the world is feeling the damaging effects of excessive carbon in our atmosphere, AIA will continue to advocate for policies that protect the environment by encouraging the design, preservation and construction of high-performing buildings. Reducing the carbon footprint of buildings is not just good for the environment; it’s good for business. According to a 2015 study, from 2011 to 2014, the green construction market generated $167.4 billion in GDP, supported over 2.1 million jobs and provided $147.7 billion in labor earnings. That is why we advocate for policies that lead to energy efficient, carbon neutral buildings.

We stand for protecting communities from the impact of climate change. Global warming and man-made hazards pose an increasing threat to the safety of the public and the vitality of our nation. Rising sea levels and devastating natural disasters result in unacceptable losses of life and property. Resilient and adaptable buildings are a community’s first line of defense against disasters and changing conditions of life and property. That is why we advocate for robust building codes and policies that make our communities more resilient.

We stand for economic opportunity. Architects, the backbone of the nation’s design and construction industry, are entrepreneurs and small businesses. Working in offices, storefronts, and home offices in every community, design firms do more than simply create great spaces: they create well-paying jobs and opportunity. But with narrow profit margins and increasing costs of running a firm, many struggle just to meet their business plans. We stand for federal policies that help firms thrive, not hold them back. That means a tax code that treats architects fairly, small business programs that provide loans and financing support and programs that give small firms the chance to compete. That is why AIA advocates for policies that ensure small firms remain strong contributors to the nation’s economy.

We stand for investing in the future. A generation of young people is being held back by a lack of access to education and the crushing burden of student debt. Nowhere is this truer than in architecture, where recent graduates are often forced to leave the profession to pay down student loans. Without a pool of qualified architects to design buildings, projects will not move forward, stifling economic development. That is why AIA advocates for policies that provide better access and financing for young people to enter and remain in the profession of architecture.

We speak up, and policymakers listen. Together, AIA members carry a powerful voice for the values they uphold in their practices each and every day. As natural facilitators and problem-solvers, architects stand ready to develop new policies that create a better, stronger, and more equitable and sustainable society. Through a culture of values-based advocacy, AIA members are committed to engaging in the policy-making process and to focus the power of design on solving the challenges facing our great nation.

Visit the AIA Advocacy website for more information about these and other initiatives currently in progress.