Friday, March 25, 2011

Advocacy Update: Week 10

Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

The Texas Legislative Session has almost hit the mid-point and only three (3) bills have passed out of the House. Keep in mind that almost 4,000 were filed in the House (not including House Resolutions). This tells me things are about to get really hectic.

This week the House Appropriations Committee reported out of Committee their proposed budget which the Senate immediately identified as "not acceptable," meaning too harsh and in need of more funding. The Senate plans to restore some funding for health services and find an additional $6 billion for public education.

What does this mean to the architectural profession? I'm starting to feel like a broken record but the answer is: we still don't know. A number of bills have been filed that have extremely broad captions relating to "fiscal matters." We're watching them very closely for amendments that could impact state design/construction and/or procurement, as well as any other "funny business" that impacts the architectural profession.

Good news of the week is that we've been successful in stopping two additional legislative proposals that would have authorized bidding of professional services as they relate to higher education. Other good news is that we've made progress on at least one bill that would have expanded the definition of engineering to include design of buildings. It appears that that bill, at least for the moment, is not in play...but there's time and we fully expect we're in this for the long-haul. Next week, we'll be working to support SB 361 which prohibits overly broad indemnification provisions in design and construction contracts. Stay tuned.

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