Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rebuild & Renew

The smiling bunch in the photo above is the AIA Oregon delegation along with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (center in photo) during its visit to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. earlier this month as part of the 2011 AIA Leadership & Legislative Conference ("Grassroots"). The Oregon delegation included five of AIA-Southwestern Oregon’s own: 2011 AIA-SWO President Paul Dustrud, 2011 AIA-SWO President-Elect Kurt Albrecht, AIA-Northwest & Pacific Region Associate Director Shawn Jenkins, AIA-Oregon Delegate Bill Seider, and AIA-SWO Executive Director Don Kahle. They, along with nearly 1,000 architects from across the country presented AIA’s four-step plan for rebuilding Main Street:

Step One: 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 and allow the financial sector to lend to worthy projects that put Americans back to work. [Link to Issue Brief]

Step Two: Remove 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. Now Congress needs to repeal the expensive and unneeded new Form 1099 paperwork requirement slipped into the health care reform bill. [Link to Issue Brief]

Step Three: Jumpstart 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. [Link to Issue Brief]

Step Four: Pass a Transportation Bill to Get our Communities Moving Again
Crumbling infrastructure and rising congestion have crippled our nation's competitiveness, reduced safety, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Worse, outdated transportation laws have slowed projects down and deprived the public of a voice in the planning process. Congress needs to enact transportation reform legislation this year that gives people real choices in how they move. [Link to Issue Brief]

I had the good fortune to attend the Grassroots conferences in 2008 and 2009. In addition to leadership skills development and networking opportunities, I acquired an appreciation for the value of political advocacy. As an architect, you have insight and expertise that is useful to your members of Congress. They may not always agree with your position on certain issues, but they are always interested in listening to what professionals residing or working in the communities they represent have to say. And congressional staff values your thoughts as well—it helps inform them on the issues and consequently advise your members of Congress on which legislation to support.

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