Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jeff Johnson Comic Series, June 1956

Texas Architect magazine debuted the "Jeff Johnson, Architect" comic in April 1956. The comic, which was based on an architect, was created by David C. Baer, II, commercial artist and son of TA's former editor, David C. Baer. Patrick J. Nicholoson, consultant to TSA, collaborated on the series. Architectural Forum ran the cartoon in its publication in the fall of 1956.

The comic will appear once a month on the TSA blog until the end of the series. Enjoy!

June 1956

Friday, April 29, 2011

AIA Conducting Design Assistance Project in New Orleans

The American Institute of Architects' Center for Communities by Design, in accordance with the AIA's long-standing commitment to public service, will conduct a pro-bono design assistance project on the Elysian Fields Avenue Corridor in downtown New Orleans.

The effort, known in the architecture world as a charrette, will take place May 8 through 11, just before the AIA's annual convention in New Orleans convenes May 12-14. It culminates in a final presentation to the community on May 11 at Dillard University at 6:30 p.m.

The AIA will lead a multi-disciplinary team of national experts, in partnership with Eskew, Dumez & Ripple, a leading New Orleans firm. The team will be led by Todd Scott, AIA, who has been involved in and led design assistance projects in places as diverse as Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Maine. Scott will work with city officials, residents and corridor stakeholders to analyze existing conditions along the corridor and form a set of design recommendations for its future.

The charrette will involve public tours, stakeholder work sessions, public workshops, interviews, and design studio sessions with partners from the New Orleans design community. The team's work will focus on both the corridor as a whole, as well as strategic sites that lend themselves to urban design interventions. The project will build upon the current momentum in New Orleans to revamp its major streets for livability and economic revitalization.

Click here to continue reading.

Architecture is Focus of Downtown Walking Tour

 Mark Wellen will lead a tour today that will highlight some of the historic mid-century to modern architecture design of buildings, like the Bank of America building on Wall Street, during Downtown Midland Walking Tour. Cindeka Nealy/Reporter-Telegram

April 29, 2011

Audrie Palmer
Midland Reporter-Telegram

Residents will be able to view mid-century to modern architectures on a walking tour this morning around the downtown area.

Midland architect Mark Wellen (Texas Society of Architects member) will lead the free tour, which is open to the public. Those wanting to participate should meet at 10 a.m. in Centennial Plaza.

The tour is being held in conjunction with the Inaugural Texas MODern Month, and Wellen said he hopes to raise awareness of the need to preserve some of Midland's buildings.

"There are great examples of mid-century and modern architecture here," he said looking across Centennial Plaza Friday afternoon.

The tour will be about a mile of walking covering a two-block-by-four-block area and will include about 20 buildings officials have identified as buildings from that period. It's expected to last between one and two hours, Wellen said.

While there are a lot of residential projects in Midland that could be included on the tour, Wellen said officials wanted to keep this first one simple, but they could expand it over time.

Read more here.

Architecture Students Have 'Designs' for Sudan

Students and faculty of Texas A&M University System's College of Architecture meet with staff from the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture to show their designs for Rehab Nova -- a multi-purpose rehabilitation, health and agriculture facility proposed for southern Sudan. (Texas A&M College of Architecture photo).

COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M University System’s College of Architecture and Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture have collaborated to produce designs for a new multi-purpose health, training, and agriculture facility for southern Sudan.

“The Rehab Nova-International multipurpose facility is designed to be built in three phases,” said George J. Mann, AIA, a professor of architecture at the college who worked with the students in developing their designs. “The facility would include land for agriculture, livestock, boarding houses, guest houses, labs, classrooms, and facilities for physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy, and vocational rehabilitation.”

Mann added the facility also would have offices and a health clinic to help orphans, women, and the physically disabled in the rural Sudanese communities of Birka and Bor.

Designs for the facility were developed by architecture students after doing extensive research on Sudanese culture, climate, materials, and methods of construction, and incorporating these elements into their designs. Five students – three men and two women – participated in the architectural “studio” with each developing their own individual design for the facility in one of the designated communities.

Read more here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

AMOA Presents ART + ARCHITECTURE: New Architecture in Austin

The Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) presents the third installment of ART + ARCHITECTURE today, April 28, and will use the format of New Art in Austin as a blueprint for this edition. J.C Schmeil, AIA, is one of the speakers. 

New Art in Austin, which is on view at AMOA-Downtown from Feb. 26 -May 22, 2011, is the fourth in a triennial showcase that introduces emerging and lesser-known artists from Central Texas whose work stretches the boundaries of contemporary art.

Austin Foundation for Architecture: Request for Grant Applications

The Austin Foundation for Architecture (AFA) requests applications for its 2011 June grant cycle. AFA's two-part mission is to:

1) develop the general public's education, awareness, and appreciation for architecture, and to promote responsible stewardship of the Central Texas environment.

2) develop sustainable architectural leadership for AIA Austin, and other public, professional, and community organizations in Central Texas.

Recent grants have awarded scholarships for participation in Leadership Austin, sponsored an Architecture Film Series, provided funding for an international design competition, and supported a volunteer-led Architecture in Schools program. Average grants have been around $1,200. The amount of any grant award is determined by the Board based on the available funds and the degree to which the grant will further the mission of AFA as demonstrated in the application.

Applications are due by June 1, 2011. The application form can be found here.

Questions regarding the application process may be directed to the Grant Awards Committee Chair, Al York, AIA, at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Graduate Students Working on Projects at Cutting-Edge Development in South Africa

Texas A&M University
April 20, 2011

Texas A&M College of Architecture students studying abroad in South Africa are designing a study center and developing a business plan for a nonprofit utility company while working on a groundbreaking real estate development located on the coast of the the country’s Eastern Cape.

Graduate students in the college’s architecture and land development programs have spent the spring semester at Crossways Farm Village, a 1,400-acre residential development located on a dairy farm; the first project of its size in the country. They are collaborating with Chris Mulder and Associates, an architecture and land development firm that is designing and managing the project. 

The study center is being designed to initially house students and professors from the Texas A&M colleges of architecture and agriculture. It will include a high-tech milking building, seminar rooms, library and design studios to enable future study abroad participation by additional Texas A&M colleges, said Glen Mills a professor of architecture who is leading the South African study abroad program.

Click here to continue reading.

Houston's Eco-achievements are Mounting

According to an April 21, 2011, article on, "Houston has 118 buildings that are LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating points to energy efficiency, water savings, use of green materials, sustainable site development, and more. Houston ranks sixth in the country for cities with green buildings."

City's eco-achievements are mounting
Recycling, building and vehicle initiatives are expanding, mayor says

April 21, 2011
By Maggie Galehouse

Houston's mayor wants people to get outside.

"We're trying to find more ways to get people out of doors," Mayor Annise Parker said at an Earth Day Breakfast held outside City Hall earlier this week.

That effort includes everything from encouraging residents to grow vegetable gardens — the city grows herbs and vegetables in huge pots around city buildings and parks - to enabling more city dwellers to recycle.

At the breakfast, Parker updated a green-leaning crowd on Houston's environmental accomplishments.

"One-third of city residents have curbside, single-stream recycling," Parker noted, adding that she herself is a "rabid recycler" whom staff has pulled away from trash bins when she sees recyclables that have been thrown away.

"We are the oil-and-gas capital," Parker said, "but we want to be the energy capital."

Among the city's green accomplishments:

The City Hall Farmers Market, launched last year, sells local produce from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays at 901 Bagby.

Houston is the largest municipal purchaser of wind energy in America.

Houston has 118 buildings that are LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating points to energy efficiency, water savings, use of green materials, sustainable site development and more. Houston ranks sixth in the country for cities with green buildings.

More than 300 organizations are registered with the Houston Green Office Challenge, which recognizes achievements in energy usage, waste, water and tenant participation (sign up at

Continue reading here.

Advocacy Update: Week 14

Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

Thank you TSA Advocates for staying informed. We have five weeks left of the Session, and in politics, that’s a LONG time. On any given day, you can check in with me in the morning on an issue and by the end of the day, the landscape looks totally different. But recognizing this reality is half the battle. As long as architects stay in touch with lawmakers on our issues, repeatedly, any chance you get, the Session will be successful for the profession. Our mantra shall remain: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Here are the highlights of this past week: (in order of progress through the legislative process)

• If any of you have ever had to defend a lien to recover payment from a client, good news! a bill is approaching passage that would require Courts to award a successful lien claimant attorneys fees and costs.

• The negotiated A/E “Peace” bill that would give licensed engineers the opportunity to prove up demonstrated competence in preparing architectural plans and specifications for three (3) built public projects, in exchange for amending the statutory definition of “engineering” which explicitly excludes the practice of architecture has been voted out of Committee and is heading to the Consent calendar…that means it’s moving fast to the Senate Chamber.

• For those of you who’ve had trouble with governmental entities on contract issues, a bill has been reported out of committee that would waive sovereign immunity for claims exceeding $250,000. This threshold is a bit high, I know, but it’s a start.

• A public-private partnerships bill that would help inject funds into the construction of public projects has been reported out of committee.

• A slew of generically captioned “fiscal matters” bills that were filed as “shell” bills early in the Session concerned TSA and we’re now starting to see the real content of the bills -- so far, the architectural profession has steered clear of any major revenue-raising measures. But there’s still time.

• Fire protection technicians that you rely on for installation will be more regulated; if the bill continues at its steady pace. It’s been reported out of committee and, if it passes, it should give architects some peace of mind.

• Lastly, on Thursday of this past week, a bill that would consolidate the architects board with the engineers and land surveyor boards was heard but left pending. Problematic? Yes – for a number of reasons but the biggest issue for TSA members is board representation – 5 engineers, 3 architects. 5-3 aren’t good odds. Watch for targeted action requests on this bill!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

DWR Fourth Annual Modern + Design +Function Austin Furniture Now Competition

Design Within Reach is holding its Fourth Annual Modern + Design + Function Austin Furniture Now juried competition this month.

M+D+F's purpose is to discover and "promote innovative modern furniture." In addition to this year's lighting and furniture categories, a special green category has been added featuring furniture that incorporates environmentally conscious designs by using green processes and materials. Jurors include furniture craftsman Mark Macek, bookbinder Lindsay Nakashima, and University of Texas Assistant Professor of Architecture Tamie Glass.

Deadline for submissions is 6 p.m. April 26, 2011. Winning designs will be displayed at Design Within Reach, 200 W. Second St., Austin, on May 26. Interested participants should contact Vickie Collins at or call 512-472-7200. Visit the Austin studio link at for more information, submission requirements, and entry applications.

UH to Provide Solar Powered Adaptive Containers for Everyone (SPACE) to City of Houston

The Cypress Times
April 18, 2011

As a coastal city, Houston remains in constant preparation mode for possible severe weather emergencies. To be ready for storms or other crises, city officials are tapping into the talents of University of Houston Green Building Components (UHGBC) applied research program in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture for disaster relief solutions.

Through a new partnership with the city, a UHGBC-supported team of faculty researchers and industry partners will provide city parks, schools, fire stations and other locations with 17 of its Solar Powered Adaptive Containers for Everyone (SPACE). The city recently awarded a $1.35 million contract (funded by a grant to the city from the State Energy Conservation Office) to UHGBC to construct these SPACE stations. The units are scheduled to be constructed and completely in place for the 2011 hurricane season.

SPACE units are recycled shipping containers equipped with solar generators. They are rated to withstand hurricane force winds and can be quickly deployed using helicopters or flatbed trailers. Two people can put a single unit into service in approximately 30 minutes.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Ike-Damaged Galveston Ironwork to be Restored
AP Texas News
April 19, 2011

GALVESTON, Texas — Owners of some historic buildings facing thousands of dollars in costs to repair intricate ironwork left rusting since Hurricane Ike's 2008 storm surge are closer to getting federal help to pay to bills.

Saltwater up to 12 feet deep washed through parts of the city, leading to rust damage that preservationists say needs to be fixed.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation in April 2009 added Galveston's cast-iron architecture to its list of America's Most Endangered Historic Places. The repair project, using federal grants, also includes partnering with the Galveston Historical Foundation.

Crews led by Walker Restoration, the lead contractor for the project, in the past week evaluated five buildings to assess damage and complete environmental inspections, the Galveston County Daily News reported Tuesday.

"The architecture and these buildings are very important," said Lori Feild Schwarz, city assistant director of planning and special projects. "We are a truly unique place, and the fact that we have so many of these cast-iron buildings makes it really an amazing project for us."

Architecture students from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009 surveyed properties and identified about 30 with fancy cast-iron facades.

Click here to continue reading.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Homeowners Advised of P+W's 'Precautionary List'

A recent post on cautions homeowners about harmful effects of some building materials, which are specified in a “precautionary list” produced by Perkins + Will. (See the Jan/Feb 2010 Texas Architect for the Editor’s Note about that list and the firm’s research into dangerous chemicals commonly used in building construction.)

The blog links directly to the P+W list (, recommending it for those homeowners who “sometimes feel like you're fighting a losing battle” in avoiding embodied chemicals that pose health hazards within the household environment. Alphabetically searchable by chemical name, the list provides summaries of possible health hazards.

The website is a subsidiary of Apartment Therapy, whose own portal describes its mission as “helping people make their homes more beautiful, organized and healthy by connecting them to a wealth of resources, ideas and community online.”

Update: Galveston's Green Revival House

The recent renovation in Galveston of an 1891 cottage called the Green Revival House, a project funded by the Galveston Historical Foundation, is among the winners of 2011 Preservation Texas Honor Awards. In addition, the Green Revival House has achieved LEED for Homes Platinum certification, a first for a small and historic residence.

The Galveston Historical Foundation is duly proud of the achievements.

The project, profiled in the Jan/Feb edition, successfully rescued and rehabilitated the 1,000-sf cottage that sustained severe damage during Hurricane Ike in 2008. Following local historical preservation guidelines, volunteers from Houston and Galveston completed the work last year through a partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Among the local design professionals assisting the effort were Greg Lewis, AIA, and Chula Ross Sanchez, Assoc. AIA.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Advocacy Update

David Lancaster
TSA Senior Manager of Advocacy

This was a GREAT week for TSA’s Advocacy efforts! We had two critical bills move out of their respective House committees (one even recommended for the Local & Consent Calendar), and since both were consensus committee substitutes, in other words, they’re now “agreed” bills, their chance of final passage is really good.

CSHB 2284
The acronym “CSHB” stands for Committee Substitute for House Bill. The substitute is a complete re-write of the Filed version. It’s the “Peace Accord” bill that we hope—and expect—will end over 20 years of professional overlap disputes between architects and engineers. Assuming this one stays on track, and the good news is that this is the one that was sent to Local & Consent, the calendar reserved for less controversial or uncontested bills, it will eliminate the need for any further consideration of seven other bills that had your Society Advocates alarmed. Again, if it stays on a “consensus track,’ it should be in the Senate…where a friendly sponsor is waiting to keep it rolling smoothly…before the end of April!

CSHB 628
The Alternative Project Delivery consolidation bill we have jointly sponsored with the Associated Builders & Contractors, Associated General Contractors and Texas Council of Engineering Companies each session since 2005 is moving again. As in two previous sessions when it passed both chambers only to be vetoed by the Governor, the timing is good and the revised language has no visible opposition. In the meantime, we’ve already started checking with Perry’s office to make sure it won’t get vetoed this time if/when it gets to his desk.

Two bills dealing with the Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) had our attention this week: HB 1859, which would grant an exemption to any structure or facility owned by a religious entity, was reported favorably from committee; and, HB 2658, which would eliminate the state Architectural Barriers law and rely solely on the ADA, will be modified to propose an interim study of TAS and how it’s currently administered by TDLR…with the potential that it could be moved to TBAE later. 

The Codes & Standards committee suggested we oppose HB 1859 because of the precedent it would set in granting an exemption based on who owns a project, not the human use or occupancy purpose it serves. Historically, TSA has opposed broad exemptions from either building codes or historic preservation statutes being granted to churches.

HB 2010, companion to SB 361, the “Indemnification Protection” bill, had its first hearing this week, and left as pending business. Our hope is that something, preferably the Senate version, will get kicked out within the next two weeks, with ample time to be scheduled for floor debate before mid-May.

HB 51, the High Performance Building Standards bill, still awaits a set by the Calendars committee for required second and third reading approvals on the House floor, but “the other green” bills, three related to business practices (i.e., sovereign immunity, Public-Private Partnerships and limiting public entities’ ability to perform services available from the private sector) all moved out of committee successfully. None are “sure things,” but there’s hope and we’re working them, both to improve the language in them as well as to improve their chances.

While it wasn’t directly related to QBS, there was an interesting debate this morning on the House floor between proponents of “best value” v. “low bid/price.” While it was focused on the Dept. of Information Resources…computer and information system commodities…it was a wake-up call that we aren’t out of those woods altogether yet.

FINAL OBSERVATIONS: It’s getting “testier” by the week, if not the day, around the Capitol. We must maintain progress getting our bills passed, hopefully within the next four weeks, because after that budget negotiations and redistricting will sweep the stage. While it may be “edgy,” it’s fascinating…it’s fun…and it’s your future. Please stay tuned and respond immediately to any Legislative Alerts you get. Timing is to politics what location is to real estate.

Rice School of Architecture Summer Program

Rice University School of Architecture is pleased to announce LAUNCH, a new summer program in architectural design.

LAUNCH offers students in any field an opportunity to design the future and learn about architecture in an immersive, exciting atmosphere of hands-on speculation and experimentation. Formatted as a four-week design studio — fueled by discussions, lectures, and field trips with faculty from the Rice School of Architecture — students will design architectural projects that respond to issues and sites in the city of Houston.

LAUNCH requires only a committed interest to creative inquiry and enthusiastic pursuit of new ideas; no previous experience in architecture or design is required for admission.

The summer 2011 session of LAUNCH begins Mon., June 6, 2011, and ends Fri., July 1, 2011.
Application Deadline: Fri., May 6, 2011.

For more information, visit

Monday, April 11, 2011

TBAE Updates Education, Experience Requirements to Bring Uniformity

 TBAE Licensing News
April 2011

In our fast-paced professions, rarely do things remain static
very long. As the professions change to meet current and future
demands, the Board is consistently monitoring and planning
for these as well. One of the important responsibilities of the
Board is to update standing rules as our three professions
advance their changing practices.

During its January, 2011 meeting, the Board adopted what
some considered a much-needed “cleanup” of some outdated
internship and education rules dating from the 1990s. It is
important that the rules that regulate our professions are
always clear and up to date. The recent rule amendments
were designed to do multiple things at once:

• Remove obsolete provisions
• Raise the education and experience standards for all
three professions
• Maintain a small degree of flexibility for the small
number of potential licensees affected.

The newly-adopted rules restrict the “grandfather” provisions
for architects, registered interior designers (RIDs), and
landscape architects to those who apply on or before
August 31, 2011. On the following day, September 1, 2011,
those provisions will be repealed and no one will be eligible
for registration under those previous provisions.

Click here for more information from TBAE.

Advocacy Update: Week 12

Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

This week ran the gamut of issues. Here are the highlights of bills heard in Committee:  

• a bill exempting buildings owned by religious organizations from accessibility standards,

• a negotiated bill between Texas Society of Architects and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. Dan Hart and the President of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers appeared side-by-side at the podium to explain what the bill does. This has been a difficult negotiation on the AE overlap issue with a 20+-year history and both organizations have reached agreement. While the bill was left pending and we expect it to be voted out within days, the bill appears to be headed for the Local and Consent calendar, which is “Leg (as in Legislative) talk” for “it’s going to move quickly out of the House and on to the Senate,”

• several bills were heard that would give architects, as the prevailing party, the ability to recover attorneys fees,

• preservation funding bills,

• economic development and a slew of generally captioned “fiscal matters” bills that are ripe to be vehicles for potential increased occupation fees or other business-impacting concerns,

• a bill that would repeal the “interior design title act” from a “government efficiency standpoint.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Photos from Publications Committee Retreat, March 25-27

The TSA Publications Committee annual retreat was held March 25-26 in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Below are a few images from that trip. Images courtesy of Filo Castore.

To view more pictures, click here.

Federal Government Shutdown: What You Need to Know

Robert Ivy
EVP/Chief Executive Officer
The American Institute of Architects

Dear Colleagues:

As you no doubt know from news reports, Congressional leaders and President Obama have failed so far to agree on a budget in time to avert a shut-down of the federal government, scheduled to begin at midnight tonight. Congress has not sent any of its fiscal year 2011 appropriations bills to the President because of disagreements over spending levels. Unless an agreement between negotiators is reached - and that could happen at any time - the last continuing resolution on the 2011 budget expires at the end of the day today, and the government is officially closed for business beginning tomorrow, Saturday, April 9.

Anticipating questions about such an event, the AIA government relations team assembled a comprehensive list of answers to questions most on the minds of members. This set of FAQs contains as much information as we know at this time. We'll update them as more information becomes available from various federal authorities and agencies.

Rest assured that while the federal government may be closed, we are not. The AIA is open, fully functioning and available to meet your needs.

It has been 15 years since the federal government experienced a shutdown. As another shutdown looms, there are lots of questions about how it will affect all Americans, especially those who work with (and for) the federal government. If your projects receive federal funding, will they have to stop? If you are a federal contractor, what should you be doing?

Much remains unclear about what happens after a possible shutdown, including the processes and procedures that individuals and companies doing business with the government will face. In order to help AIA members through the confusion, the AIA Federal Relations team has launched a Web page to provide up-to-date information about any shutdown that may occur and what you need to do.

We also encourage you to read the Angle for updates on government activity, and follow the federal relations team on Twitter @aialobbyist.

For more information, contact

Shutdown 101: FAQ

What is a government shutdown?

A government shutdown occurs when Congress and the President fail to approve and enact into law funding for federal agencies. The federal government operates on an Oct. 1-Sept. 30 fiscal year. Each year Congress must pass and send to the President a series of appropriations bills that fund most government agencies and programs. If an agency does not have its funding signed into law by Oct. 1, Congress can pass a so-called continuing resolution that extends the prior year’s funding levels for a short time until a full-year appropriations bill can pass. If the President does not sign either a continuing resolution bill or a full-year appropriation, the affected agency or agencies must cease operations except for essential services.

Click here to continue reading.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Protecting Funding Means Protecting Our Texas History

Letters to the Editor
April 6, 2011
James F. Ray, President
Preservation Texas, Inc.

A remarkable thing happened in Austin recently. Six separate historic preservation groups and a throng of concerned citizens came together at Scholz Garten in a rally to help save the Texas Historical Commission, the guardian and nerve center for our heritage, from draconian budget cuts in the Texas Legislature.

Texas music legend Ray Benson of Asleep in the Wheel performed gratis because of his deep passion for Texas history. The 1866 Scholz Garten, a treasured piece of history itself, waived its usual event fee when it learned about the cause. Benson told the enthusiastic crowd that he came to Texas 40 years ago because of its rich history and diverse culture.

United, the crowd called for the Legislature to reject the proposed 77 percent cut to the Texas Historical Commission, a reduction far greater than the average 28 percent reduction recommended for other similar agencies.

Why, in the face of tight spending for public education, health programs and social services is funding for the Texas Historical Commission important to the people of Texas? Remembering Texas' unique history through preservation of historic structures and sites is itself part of our public education.

Imagine a Texas where there was no Alamo for children to visit, or a San Jacinto Battleground covered over with concrete and commercial warehouses. What would it say to Texas children if the magnificent Capitol was still a fire trap, or if the 1856 Governor's Mansion had just been bulldozed after the devastating fire of 2008?

Click here to continue reading.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Advocacy Update: Week 11

April 4-8 could be a critical week for TSA’s 2011 advocacy efforts. A hard-earned negotiated agreement between architects and engineers that might end more than 20 years of struggle over where one discipline ends and the other begins is up for review and potential action by the Licensing & Administrative Procedures committee Tues., April 5. This effort is the result of negotiations that began in the summer, which appeared lately to be off-course, but through the good efforts of Rep. Mike Hamilton (Beaumont) are back on track.

Assuming things work out as hoped/planned, one of the bills the Society was most concerned with previously—HB 2284, relating to the practice of engineering—will become the vehicle to spell out our AE agreement when that new language is introduced in the form of a Committee Substitute (CS) at Tuesday’s hearing. Not only would the bill that was arguably considered our biggest threat become one of our new favorites, the substitute language would likely eliminate the likelihood for up to seven other “troubling” bills being considered further, too.

The potential is tremendous…and we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, but things are looking so much brighter than just a couple of weeks ago. It’s not too early, however, to say “thanks” to Rep. Mike Hamilton for his “encouragement” to both sides to work things out, as well as his leadership and staff assistance in helping craft an agreement-in-principle last week.

The House’s version of the biennial budget was finally approved Sun., April 3, pretty much along straight party lines after two days of marathon debate. It’s really lean…and about $10 billion less than what’s expected to come out of the Senate, so there will need to be a lot of negotiation and compromise if a special session is to be avoided.

Hearings on other bills this week (4/4-8) include: HB 1041, relating to the waiver of sovereign immunity by state agencies for certain claims; HB 1859, loosening the ADA-TAS requirements on facilities owned by religious institutions; HB 2432, setting out the limits and authority for public-private partnerships (P3) as a way to finance certain construction projects; HB 3756, allowing those executing interior design contracts to file a lien for non-payment; SB 5, the comprehensive funding bill for higher education that last week contained an exemption from QBS for institutions of higher learning—language that is gone from this week’s version of the bill as a result of our previous visits; and, Sunset bills for various agencies, including the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs and State Preservation Board.

David Lancaster, Hon. AIA
TSA Senior Manager of Advocacy