Monday, April 25, 2011

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!

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