Advocacy Update: Understanding Texas’ Political Climate

As many of you know, the Texas Society of Architects (TxA) maintains an active government relations presence through our involvement in the Texas Architects Committee (TAC) and several additional advocacy-charged committees. In my latest meeting with the Government Affairs Steering Committee (GASCOM), Kathy Grant, one of TxA’s contract lobbyists, shared several interesting documents outlining the Texas political landscape. Whether at the state or local level, an understanding of the Texas politics and electoral results is crucial. Those who are elected and hold office determine budget allocations and taxes for the next legislative session. These decision makers dictate regulatory practice, which…

Advocacy Update: The New World of Texas Politics — What It Means for You

About a week after the March 4th primary election, I addressed AIA Dallas’ Emerging Professionals leadership class where I asked them how many had voted. Of the 30 people in the room, only two hands went up — and one of those was mine! That’s about a 6.6% participation rate — abysmal, though unfortunately not that far off the statewide percentage. To make matters worse, three Dallas-area legislators — all genuine supporters of the profession with numerous architect friends and truly qualified, intelligent solons — lost their races by a margin of less than 1%. As if it isn’t obvious already, the…

Beyond the Boardroom: Looking Ahead in 2014

Texas Architects board members and leadership are staying up-to-date on developments with AIA, especially those related to changes in board restructuring. While it’s not a hot topic for most AIA members, how and by whom the Institute is to be governed into the future is an issue that will determine how effective the Institute becomes, and how effectively it represents its membership. TxA leaders have strong concerns about how local, state, and regional chapters will interact with the reorganized AIA board being proposed. Change continues to be order of the day on many levels. The task of the Society is to…

Advocacy Update: Robinson Wins!

David W. Robinson, AIA, was elected to the Houston City Council, At-Large #2 post in last Saturday’s (December 14) run-off. As expected, it was a close race with only three percent (3%), or 33,000 voters, returning to the polls. Various Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts made the difference: Robinson beat the incumbent, Andrew Burks, by roughly 500 votes. The position is a two-year term, so we have a duly-elected Citizen Architect helping to lead the nation’s fourth largest city for at least that long. Congratulations, David! You’ve done all those architects who voted for you proud, and we know you’ll do a great job as a…

Texas Architects’ IgCC Roadmap

According to the EPA, buildings account for 36 percent of total energy use and 65 percent of electricity consumption. Much of Texas is in drought conditions, with many portions of our state in severe distress. As our society, government, and culture wrestle with the economics, politics, and ethics of these challenges, it becomes increasingly imperative that our buildings be designed and constructed to use fewer resources. As the responsible representative of architects in Texas, the Texas Society of Architects has long been a supporter of sustainable standards for buildings, including ongoing programs of advocacy and education for our own members,…

Advocacy News: AIA Announces 2014 Call for Issues Survey

Dear Texas Society of Architects Members: Last January the AIA announced its legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, Let’s Get America Building. Working together, we are making the case in Washington for policies that empower architects to design better buildings and communities. But our agenda doesn’t spring from Washington; it comes from the AIA members like you and me. Your opinion is crucial to formulating this agenda, which is why I am asking you to join me in taking the 2014 Call for Issues survey. Your feedback helps the AIA understand how decisions made by Congress and the White House…

Advocacy Update: SAC Fingerprinting Requirements

The Society's Senior Advocate David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, shares the Society's position on the Sunset Advisory Commission's fingerprinting requirement passed during the 83rd Legislative Session. The recommendation was part of the TBAE Sunset review bill. Pardon the pun, but the 2013 legislative issue that has left the biggest imprint on AIA members has unquestionably been fingerprinting. We’ve heard more from members on that requirement, which is a Sunset Advisory Commission “boiler-plate” recommendation for every licensing agency going through its routine periodic Sunset review, than we have any other practice-related issue. Important details to remember about this new requirement: 1) it doesn’t…

Advocacy Update: Texas 83rd Legislative Session Wrap-up

Texas Architects Senior Advocate David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, recaps the Society's advocacy work during the 83rd Regular Legislative Session, which concluded on May 27.  Inside the Texas State Capitol dome. -photo by Elizabeth Hackler After the tremendous success the Society achieved during the 2011 legislative session, its Government Affairs Steering Committee approved a lower-key approach for the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, one focused on ‘Sunset and Sustainability.’ Texas Architects saw their Practice Act successfully extended for another 12 years with the passage of HB 1717 (Rep. “Four” Price / Sen. Robert Nichols), the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) sunset…

Advocacy Update: Eight Weeks To Go!

Advocacy updates are provided by Texas Architects Senior Advocate David Lancaster, Hon. AIA Capitol Complex – courtesy State Preservation Board As usual, activity at the Texas Capitol speeds up greatly in late March and April.  So far, the Society’s focus has been in three general areas: Sunset bills, especially HB 1717 relating to the Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE), and HB 2107, relating to the Facilities Commission (TFC); Bills aimed at improving the Public Private Partnership (P3) law and ensuring a Master Plan with appropriate design standards for the Capitol Complex, with particular attention on SB 507 A plethora of…

Everyday Advocate

After finishing architecture school in 1997, I couldn’t help feeling there was a void in our profession. For five years, I had been living, breathing, and talking architecture. But as I graduated from Tulane, I realized that our communities lacked an understanding of the importance of architecture. I decided that getting the rest of the world to realize the importance of architecture would be my charge. I asked myself three questions. Who advocates for my newfound profession? The answer: I do. Where are the supporters? Everywhere. How do I get people to realize the effects of space and place? Help…