Each year, the California State Legislature introduces over 2,000 new bills by the third week of February. Each of these are intended to provide some benefit or opportunity for at least some constituencies of our society, however, they can also create unintended consequences or responsibilities for others who may be unaware.
The legislative process is exceedingly complex. How can we as architects be informed about all of these potential benefits or risks to our profession, our businesses, our communities, and our environment?
We can’t, at least not individually. Collectively though, we can be informed – and not just to be aware – we can even have an influence in the outcomes of these bills. This is the role of the AIA California Council’s Legislative Affairs program, under the direction of Mark Christian, Hon AIACC.
Recently, Mark reviewed each of these bills and flagged those that potentially may have impact on areas of interest to the AIACC. He summarized each of these selected bills and categorized them into areas such as: Building Standards, Business, Liability, Project Delivery, Sustainable Design, School Facilities, Public Works, etc.
These different categories of bill summaries were then evaluated by one of three AIACC Committees: Advocacy Advisory Committee (AAC), Committee on the Environment (COTE), and Urban Design Committee (UDC), depending on the related subject matter and areas of expertise of the volunteer committee members.
Though the bills introduced each year are unique, there are common values that our AIACC committees embrace to evaluate these numerous bills. One of our fundamental viewpoints is that the Building Standards Commission should be the clearinghouse for evaluating and introducing new code requirements, and not the State Legislature. With respect to laws relating to furthering project delivery methods, the AIACC is generally in favor of supporting choice by a public owner. We are also very sensitive to bills that could be interpreted differently than intended and result in inconsistent applications in different regions. Another formative area we support are bills that seek to advance the values of our profession in terms of sustainable design and sustainable communities.
Mark and I worked together to facilitate the review of these bills with these committees, leading to the eventual recommendation to support, oppose, recommend a revision or amendment, or to continue to watch the bill as it develops.
These committee recommendations were then presented to the AIACC Executive Committee to obtain their input and support in recommending these to the Board of Directors of the AIACC. After reviewing these positions with the Board via an informal “town hall” style meeting (conference call), these recommendations were then formally presented to the Board for approval.
At the May 3, 2013 meeting of the AIACC Board of Directors, the Board approved the recommended positions on the final list of legislation of interest to the AIACC. Summaries for these bills in their respective categories and their Board approved recommended positions can be found here.
Our next steps will be to contact the legislative authors and their staff, and meet with them to review our support, oppose, or request to amend, positions. Mark, along with the AIACC’s contract lobbyist will continue to follow through to provide information and testimony at legislative committee hearings, until such time as the process for each of these bills comes to conclusion, frequently many months later.
If you have any questions in the meantime, or would like to learn more about the legislative voice of the AIACC, please contact me at (408) 977-9160, or via email at Lee.Salin@HMCarchitects.com or Mark Christian at (916) 448-1708 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org