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

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