Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Advocacy Update: Week 17

David Lancaster
TSA Senior Manager of Advocacy

There’s a similarity between architecture and the legislative process that came into very clear focus this past week…and that is how things always come together in a flurry of activity at deadline time. No matter how much work has gone into a project (or into a bill) earlier, decisions must be made at the very end if everything is going to result in a “final product,” whether that’s a building or a law.

That is certainly the case for all the work that’s previously been done on several of TSA’s priority issues, including HB 51 (High Performance Building Standards), HB 628 (Alternative Project Delivery) and HB 2284 (A/E overlap issues). They are all still alive, and we’re continuing to work them hard to make sure the final product is a good one.

All three of these bills passed the House last week—on the final possible day. They have now been assigned to committees in the Senate, so they’ll likely be up for review or action the week of May 16. If they get quick action, they have an ever-increasing chance of becoming law; if they don’t, or if major changes must be made, they will likely die. The fewer changes the Senate makes, the better the bills’ chances of getting concurrence in the House…and we expect there will be Senate changes; in fact, we’re pushing at least one amendment on all three.

May 12-13 was the deadline for House bills to be approved on Second (2nd) Reading or die. We appreciate what so many members did in helping convince Representatives serving on the Calendars Committee either to set our priority measures for action…or not setting bills that seemed bad for the profession. We succeeded totally, achieving all we had hoped for…and more than anticipated. (The next such deadline, this time for comparable advancement of Senate bills, will be May 23-24.)

Despite the fact that HB 3166 was not set by the Calendars Committee for floor action (along with almost all of the other “bad” bills we’ve been tracking), however, we’re still very focused on ensuring that the content of such inappropriate legislation doesn’t get attached as an amendment to other, still viable bills. For this reason, we’re still actively monitoring every possible vehicle that could be used to consolidate the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) with other agencies, including (if not especially) the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE), as was proposed in HB 3166…or language that would limit TBAE’s authority to regulate the practice of architecture fully, as proposed in HB 1698.

Please stay on “High Alert” for a TSA Legislative Alert this week and next. Just like you would with putting those final construction documents together at the end of the design process, we must be prepared to act…and act decisively…to ensure the best final product possible, or to prevent things that could turn into problems later. Thanks for everyone’s participation so far...and please stay ready to help us get successfully to the end of the 82nd Regular Session!

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