In addition to the legislative priorities established by the Board of Directors, AIA Minnesota continues to advocate on behalf of the profession during the COVID-19 Crisis.
AIA Minnesota Government Affairs 2021 Legislative Priorities
The AIA Minnesota Government Affairs committee created the following legislative priorities for the 2021 session, which have been approved by the AIA Minnesota board of directors.
Climate Action and Resilience: AIA Minnesota recognizes the threat posed to our built and natural environments by climate change and supports measures across industries that reduce carbon emissions, encourage energy-efficient design and whole-building life cycle assessments, and foster resilient and regenerative buildings and systems.
AIA Minnesota supports efforts to transform energy use and embodied carbon to minimally achieve carbon neutral new construction and major renovations and retrofits by 2030 (the B3/SB2030 program), and a carbon neutral built environment by 2050. It also supports Minnesota and national firms adopting the AIA 2030 commitment and efforts to include the growing bodies of knowledge in resilience, equitable design, and advanced building performance in the definition of health, safety, and welfare in state and local codes.
AIA Minnesota supports policies, programs, and practices that promote adaptable, resilient, and regenerative buildings and communities. This includes creating zoning and planning policies and practices that recognize and address historic patterns of discrimination, the impacts of climate change, and environmental justice concerns. AIA Minnesota supports policies that create built environments that reduce harm and property damage, adapt to evolving conditions, and more readily, effectively, and efficiently recover from destructive events and historic trauma.
Healthy Materials: AIA Minnesota supports efforts to achieve healthy built and natural spaces by promoting the use of non-toxic building materials. AIA Minnesota supports the preference of products from manufacturers who have chosen to transparently disclose the contents of their products.
Disaster Assistance: 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.
Housing: Housing is a basic human need. Therefore, it must be considered as a basic human right, and there is a significant need to improve access and quality. AIA Minnesota supports policies, programs, and incentives to promote the design, construction, renovation, rehabilitation, preservation, and stabilization of high-quality, 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 higher density housing near transit and equitable development, zoning, and planning practices, including acknowledgement of historic and current racial disparities that place undue burdens on communities at an economic disadvantage. AIA Minnesota also seeks policy solutions that address workforce and affordable housing challenges in Greater Minnesota, where a variety of housing options that make all Minnesota communities livable is desperately needed.
Design for Public Health: AIA Minnesota supports renewed emphasis on public health and its impact on the built environment. Solutions must be comprehensive and support an equitable recovery for the workforce from the impacts of COVID-19 and prepare us for future pandemics. Policies concerning public project design should incorporate lessons learned from the pandemic and embrace new technologies, layouts and design elements that are responsive to public health needs, including HVAC considerations. See also Climate Action policy on healthy materials.
Building Codes: AIA Minnesota supports regulation by a set of comprehensive, coordinated, and contemporary building codes and standards that establish sound thresholds of health, safety, and the protection of the public welfare in Minnesota. To that end, AIA Minnesota advocates for the development and adoption of model building codes that:
- Include participation by architects and the public in a consensus-driven process;
- Are the product of informed education and scientific research;
- Include provision for a prompt appeals procedure;
- Are cost-effective in balance with public benefit;
- Promote building code provisions that set performance rather than prescriptive criteria; and
- Allow for rapid response to developing emergencies, including climate change.
AIA Minnesota supports uniformity of the building code across the entire state in order to ensure equal protection of the health, safety, and welfare of all Minnesotans. AIA Minnesota also recognizes the need for flexible, adaptable code approaches that stretch beyond the uniform framework to address urgent issues like climate change. AIA Minnesota supports the nimble development, adoption, and enforcement of comprehensive and coordinated building code solutions that help address the climate crisis.
Education and Workforce Development: AIA Minnesota is actively working to build and mentor a diverse, inclusive, and equitable profession of architecture. AIA Minnesota supports efforts to eliminate disparities in PreK-12 educational opportunities, resources, and graduation rates. AIA Minnesota also supports education and job creation for a climate action-driven workforce at all education levels. A workforce trained and prepared to help create a more resilient and regenerative future can boost the economy and create jobs in developing fields accessible to all Minnesotans.
Twin Cities Unrest Recovery: AIA Minnesota supports a comprehensive, long-range, inclusive approach to helping areas impacted by civil unrest in 2020. Policy and funding for recovery should include consideration of environmental justice impacts and community visions and desires, integrate local, state, and federal resources to create comprehensive solutions that address historic and current inequities, create opportunities to reshape communities to reflect the needs and desires of residents, and make space for new processes, policies, and priorities that allow our communities to adapt to changing conditions. Policy solutions should also create a strong vision for the future and follow through on funding for completing the projects to make that vision a reality.
Fees/Compensation for Public Projects: Good design fuels the success of building projects, and is essential to long-lasting, high-quality results. AIA Minnesota supports policies and procedures within state agencies that balance the need for economy with public funds against the financial health of private design firms prepared to collaborate with the State. Design fees should fairly compensate architects, without requiring complex funding mechanisms to complete projects, and prescriptions from state agencies should not make public work unprofitable for and exclusive of small and emerging firms.
Public Procurement: 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. The review completed in 2018 had several recommendations that require legislative and administrative changes, several of which were made in 2020 because of the need to work virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. AIA Minnesota will continue to pursue additional permanent legislative and administrative changes based on the review recommendations.
School Safety: AIA Minnesota is committed to working with all concerned stakeholders to create healthy, safe, learning environments that serve all students and families. AIA Minnesota architects offer strategies and engage policymakers on ways to avert and restrict violence while preserving open learning environments that can positively influence student behavior and create more connected open school communities. AIA Minnesota also supports policies that make our schools safer in response to COVID-19 and future pandemics, and improve environmental health outcomes for students.
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 tax incentives that promote energy efficiency, resilience, historic preservation, affordable housing, and equitable community and economic development.
Supporting Licensure: AIA Minnesota believes that the health, safety, and welfare of the public depends on having licensed, continually-educated and specifically-trained architects. State licensing boards are crucial to maintaining professional accountability and guarding against unlicensed professionals taking on duties that impact the health, safety, and welfare of Minnesotans.
Bonding: AIA Minnesota supports a robust, regular and predictable bonding process that provides appropriate funding for predesign and design work related to all projects and encourages sustainable, resilient, and regenerative design and upgrades of public projects. Bonding should account for both new construction and renovation of existing public facilities. Bonding should also be a reliable statewide community and economy booster, rather than being perennially used as a political bargaining chip.
Visit the AIA Advocacy website for more information about these and other initiatives currently in progress.