WASHINGTON—The American Institute of Architects unveiled its top four legislative priorities for the 112th Congress. Each initiative focuses on creating jobs in a design and construction industry that accounts for one in nine dollars of Gross Domestic Product.
“When architects work, the nation builds,” says AIA president Clark Manus, FAIA. “By following these four core principles, Congress has a chance to enact policies that unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America’s design professionals, create economic growth and rebuild our struggling communities and aging infrastructure.”
The AIA’s top legislative priorities are:
- Unfreeze Credit, Create Jobs: Thousands of needed construction projects that would employ millions of Americans are on hold because credit is frozen. Banks received billions in federal taxpayer bailouts; now it’s time to ensure those banks lend. Congress should support efforts to reign in regulatory overkill in the wake of the banking crisis by passing legislation such as the Equal Treatment of Covered Bonds Act, which would create a market for the kind of bond that has been used in Europe for capital projects and is generally more secure than other securitized bonds, like mortgage-backed securities. Advocates say it could unleash a market for sounder, more straightforward financing. The AIA also supports the Capital Access for Main Street Act, which would help prevent large numbers of commercial foreclosures and free up credit to help small business get back to work.
- Regulatory Burdens That Hold Small Business Back: Small architecture firms and sole practitioners know all too well the burdens of high tax rates and burdensome paperwork. In 2010, the AIA helped defeat a plan to increase payroll taxes on thousands of small architecture firms that organize as S corporations. Now Congress needs to pass the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, which would repeal the expensive and unneeded new Form 1099 paperwork requirement slipped into the health care reform bill.
- The Market for Building Retrofits as an Engine of Economic Growth: Across the country, building owners, state and local governments and school districts want to lower energy bills by retrofitting their buildings, but lack the financing to do it. By increasing incentives for efficient building designs and renovations that show real results, Congress can create jobs while securing our energy independence. Congress should increase the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction from the current $1.80 per square foot to $3.00 per square foot.
- A Transportation Bill to Get our Communities Moving Again: Our current transportation system is broken. Crumbling infrastructure and rising congestion have crippled our nation’s competitiveness, reduced safety, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, outdated transportation laws and tax policy have slowed projects down, deprived the public of a voice in the planning process, and forced Americans into longer and longer commutes. The current tax incentives for building/real estate activities do not adequately take into account locating developments near transit systems, for example.
About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org for more information.