The agenda was adopted by The AIACC Board of Directors at the November Board meeting, after considering recommendations made by the Advocacy Advisory Committee (AAC). In making its recommendations to the Board, the AAC reviewed the results of the annual member survey for advocacy ideas.
The Agenda consists of the following four proposals:
The AIACC will attempt to have legislation introduced to limit the obligation of design professionals to indemnify and defend clients to damages caused by negligent acts by the design professional.
This is an issue that comes up repeatedly in the advocacy survey, and in private communications with members and attorneys.
Clients, particularly public clients, are insisting that architects sign contracts that contain uninsurable indemnification and duty to defend clauses; they are presented as a ‘take it or leave it’ contract. Some of these contract clauses essentially turn the architectural firm into a legal services insurance company for the client. These types of contracts put the very existence of an architectural firm in jeopardy.
AIACC staff is working with several attorneys who represent, advise, and defend AIA members to develop meaningful and effective language.
This will not be an easy effort. To improve our chance of success, the AIACC will ask its members to participate in an aggressive grassroots campaign in support of the bill.
Qualifications Based Selection
The Board instructed AIACC staff to investigate the concept of including language in the Architects Practice Act to prohibit architects from providing a fee during the selection phase of public works, and to sponsor legislation if the idea is feasible.
QBS Violations – the asking for a fee during the selection phase of public works – are an ongoing and growing concern of the membership. AIACC staff increasingly is hearing from members that public clients are asking for fees during the selection phase and either selecting based upon the low fee, or demanding the highest ranked firm to match the lowest fee.
Given the economy and the politics of this issue, an effort to directly address this issue by improving the QBS statute is unlikely to succeed. This proposal is a different approach to reach the same goal: stopping the use of fees during the selection phase.
It would give the architect the ability to say “I am violating the law if I provide a fee, and will be subject to disciplinary measures by the California Architects Board if I provide a fee.” It is not intended to harm the architect, though that could happen if an architect does provide a fee during the selection phase, the same as an architect who provides services without a written contract.
AIACC staff is investigating similar laws in other states.
The Board voted to support giving the California Architects Board (CAB) the authority to require a broad-based health, safety, and welfare continuing education requirement, much like what is required in 40+ other states.
In response to the law that requires architects to take continuing education in disability access – a response to the line of mandated continuing education being crossed – the Board has for several years supported giving the CAB this authority. The Board believes this will give the CAB greater control of mandated continuing education, and make it harder for an outside group to use the Legislature to require another topic-specific requirement.
The AIACC sponsored legislation in 2010 to give the CAB this authority, and the bill passed the Legislature without a single “No” vote. However, that bill was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
The Board’s approval this year was made with awareness that Governor Brown appears to also oppose mandated continuing education. Governor Brown recently vetoed a continuing education bill, and in his veto message he wrote:
This bill would make license renewal for court reporters contingent on continuing education. The whole idea of legally mandated “continuing education” is suspect in my mind. Professionals already are motivated to hone their skills or risk not getting business.
Requiring them to pay fees to “continuing education providers” is an unwarranted burden.
Thus, at the Board’s direction, AIACC staff will communicate with the Governor’s office between now and early next year to determine if the Governor will see a requirement for architects to take continuing education on HSW topics as a natural and logical extension of the purpose of licensure: to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
California Environmental Quality Act
The AIACC will create a task force of architects and others, chaired by Mark Hornberger, FAIA, to develop proposals to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If workable proposals are developed in time, the AIACC will attempt to get those proposals introduced as legislation next year.
This proposal is made in recognition that CEQA reform is not an easy endeavor, and that others have tried several times before, with limited or no success. Nevertheless, AIA members in both the advocacy survey and personal communication indicate the abuse of CEQA, specifically by those with an agenda that is not related to the environmental impacts of a project, are harming both the economy and CEQA itself.
There exists some political will to consider CEQA reform in the Legislature, and the task force will allow the AIACC be prepared to be a part of that conversation.
Click here to review The AIACC’s Capitol Forum’s white paper on CEQA reform.
If you have any questions about any of these initiatives or the AIACC’s Legislative Agenda, contact Mark Christian.