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AIA Wisconsin Advocacy
2017 State Legislative Agenda

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, strengthen the design and construction industry, and improve our quality of life.

AIA Wisconsin members are helping Wisconsin build for the future. Wisconsin architects collaborate with community leaders to revitalize neighborhoods, improve public facilities and support sustainable economic growth.

With over 1,400 individual members, AIA Wisconsin represents architects in private practice, business, industry, government and education. Member architects are interested in the following issues that may be considered during the 2017-18 session of the Wisconsin Legislature.

Economic Development
AIA Wisconsin supports state initiatives to encourage economic growth and development.  Architects are small businesses on the leading edge of the state’s building industry. When a client hires an architect, 30 additional jobs are created to build the project the architect designs.

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

State Taxes
Architects support a state tax code that promotes economic expansion, fairness and predictability.  AIA Wisconsin opposes proposals to expand the sales tax to architectural and other professional services because of the adverse effect such a tax increase would have on small businesses and efforts to grow the state’s economy.

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

State Building Codes
AIA Wisconsin supports contemporary state building codes that are developed with the active participation of architects. At least one of the two members of the Commercial Building Code Council representing design professionals should be an architect.

AIA Wisconsin supports state policies, programs and incentives to encourage energy conservation and waste reduction in buildings as well as the development of energy from renewable sources. 

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

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

Meeting the challenges faced by many Wisconsin communities requires a strong design and construction industry. AIA Wisconsin members and allied professionals regularly collaborate with state and local leaders to revitalize communities, improve public facilities, implement energy-saving solutions and position our state for sustainable economic growth.

While architects are small businesses, with most firms employing fewer than five people, they provide a reliable early indicator of future construction and related economic activity. It is important for Wisconsin to continue building for the future by taking appropriate steps to support the state’s creative economy, jump start the market for retrofitting existing buildings to reduce energy costs and advance policies to promote economic growth.

Investing in the state building program provides a direct stimulus to Wisconsin’s economy. The state is the largest building owner in Wisconsin, with over 6,500 buildings and an estimated backlog of building maintenance needs of over $4 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.

AIA Wisconsin commends the Legislature for exempting materials used in the construction of public and nonprofit facilities from the sales tax. In contrast, any proposal to expand the state sales tax to architectural and other professional and business services would adversely affect attempts to grow the state’s economy. Such a state sales 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 and the University of Wisconsin System use 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 local municipal, county and 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 standards. The Commercial Building Code Council develops recommendations for updating the state building code; and at least one of the members of this council should be an architect.

AIA Wisconsin members also support state initiatives to streamline building permits by eliminating unnecessary regulatory duplication and authorizing architects to self-certify plans and inspections for certain buildings.


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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