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AIA Wisconsin Advocacy
2015 State Legislative Agenda

Wisconsin architects are ready to get Wisconsin building for the future by helping communities across the state revitalize neighborhoods, improve public infrastructure and support sustainable economic growth. AIA Wisconsin, the state society of the American Institute of Architects, supports state policies that protect the health and safety of the public, encourage economic development and strengthen the state’s design and construction industry.

With over 1,300 individual members, AIA Wisconsin represents architects in private practice, business, industry, government and education. Member architects are interested in legislation and administrative rules that directly affect the profession of architecture as well as proposals that impact Wisconsin’s economic climate, natural environment and quality of life.

The following provides a summary of AIA Wisconsin positions on a variety of issues that may be addressed and debated during the 2015-16 session of the Wisconsin Legislature.

Economic Development
AIA Wisconsin supports state initiatives to encourage economic growth and development.  Architects are on the leading edge of the state’s building industry – an important sector of the economy that accounts for one out of every nine dollars of economic activity.

State Building Program
AIA Wisconsin supports a capital budget for the biennium that provides adequate funding for the state building program, including repairs, maintenance, remodeling and new construction.  Now is the time to protect our investment in state building facilities.

Historic Tax Credits
AIA Wisconsin supports protecting and enhancing state historic tax credits.  This effective incentive encourages the rehabilitation of historic buildings and redevelopment of local communities, creating new jobs and economic opportunities.

Sales Tax
AIA Wisconsin supports exempting from the sales tax materials used in the construction of public and nonprofit facilities.  AIA Wisconsin opposes expansion of the sales tax to architectural and other professional and business services.

State Building Codes
AIA Wisconsin supports coordinated and contemporary state building codes that are developed by consensus, with the active participation of architects and allied design and construction industry professionals.

Architect Selection
AIA Wisconsin supports the use of a qualifications-based selection (QBS) process for procuring architectural services for public building projects, including state, UW System, local government and school district facilities.

Licensing
AIA Wisconsin supports updating state licensing requirements to facilitate Wisconsin architects becoming credentialed to practice in other states.

State Building Codes
AIA Wisconsin supports coordinated and contemporary state building codes that are developed by consensus, with the active participation of architects and allied design and construction industry professionals.

Streamlining Permitting
AIA Wisconsin supports state initiatives to streamline the building permit process by eliminating unnecessary regulatory duplication.

 

AIA Wisconsin architects and allied professionals are working in communities across the state to revitalize neighborhoods, conserve energy and other resources, improve public infrastructure and help position our state for economic growth.  Meeting the challenges faced by many of our communities demands a strong design and construction industry that is ready and able to respond.

Architects are small businesses, with most firms employing fewer than five people.  The trend in architecture billings provides an early indicator of future construction and related economic activity.  It is important for Wisconsin to start building for the future by taking appropriate steps to make financing available for projects, remove regulatory burdens for small business, jump start the market for retrofitting existing buildings and advance policies to sustain economic growth.

Investing in the state building program and other necessary infrastructure improvements provides a direct stimulus to Wisconsin’s economy.  The state is the largest building owner in Wisconsin, with over 6,200 buildings and an estimated backlog of building maintenance needs of over $1.2 billion, including UW System facilities.  A $10 million state building project generates $19.2 million in total economic activity and creates 170 jobs. This is an attractive return on investment that begins when an architect is selected to design a state building project.

Any proposal to expand the state sales tax to architectural and other professional services would adversely affect attempts to grow the state’s economy.  Such a state tax increase would place Wisconsin firms at a competitive disadvantage, impede economic activity by increasing front-end development costs, hit small businesses the hardest, and create significant administrative and compliance problems.

Similar to the federal government and 47 other states, the Wisconsin Department of Administration uses a qualifications-based selection (QBS) process for selecting architects and engineers for state building projects.  It makes sense to require the use of a QBS process for selecting the most qualified architects for all public building projects, including university system and local school facilities.

Architects are licensed in all 50 states to protect public health, safety and welfare, with each state establishing minimum education, experience and examination requirements.  AIA Wisconsin supports updating Wisconsin licensing requirements to more closely resemble those in other states.  This would enhance opportunities for Wisconsin architects to work on projects across the country.

State building codes need to be comprehensive, coordinated and contemporary.  It is important that the code development process involves the active participation of architects, incorporates the latest research, prevents favoritism or bias to any special interest, insures that code requirements are cost-effective in relation to public benefit, and promotes building code provisions that set performance rather than prescriptive standard.  At least one of the two members of the new Building Code Council representing architects, engineers and designers should be an architect.

AIA Wisconsin members also support policies and programs that would streamline the building permit process, promote sustainable architecture and encourage redevelopment of existing buildings.  For example, the increase in the state historic tax credit has proved to be a significant incentive for redeveloping historic buildings and rejuvenating local communities, with every $1 in historic tax credits leveraging an average of $5 in private investment.  The state building permit process could be streamlined by making the Department of Health Services solely responsible for plan review of all healthcare facilities.  Authorizing architects to self-certify plans and inspections for certain buildings also could save time and money by streamlining the permitting process.

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2/17/15

Please contact AIA Wisconsin for more information on these and other issues of interest to AIA Wisconsin members and the state’s design and construction industry.

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