Advocacy on the Boards | July 2021

“Advocacy On the Boards” is a monthly update from the AIA Pennsylvania Government Affairs Team to inform members of the great work “on the boards” ensuring architects are at the policymaker’s table to affect positive and equitable social, environmental, and economic outcomes for the profession and the commonwealth. This work includes lobbying state lawmakers, their staff, and other government officials and agencies to provide architects’ guidance on policies that impact the built environment and, in turn, the health, safety, and welfare of all Pennsylvanians. AIA Pennsylvania members’ technical expertise and experience are critical to the priority issues as charted by the Government Affairs team and informed by the membership’s feedback each two-year legislative session cycle.

Get the latest on the issues moving through the legislative process that AIA Pennsylvania worked on throughout July and continues to monitor and pursue.

On the Boards | Advocacy!

Meet & Greet Your Legislators in the District
AIA Pennsylvania is looking for your availability to schedule meetings with legislators in local districts throughout August and September. The main objectives – get to know your legislators by sharing the impact and challenges of your profession and a few key issues that need your voice. Depending on your level of comfort and your elected officials’ comfort, meetings may be hosted virtually, in-person at your office for a “take-your-legislator” to work visit, or in your legislators’ district office. This is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with your legislators and introduce yourself and AIA Pennsylvania as a resource for industry issues in a more relaxed environment.

Replay the preparatory webinar for a suggested roadmap for your meetings and a breakdown of a few priority issues.

Advocate4Arch From Your Phone
AIA Pennsylvania is part of a pilot for a new advocacy platform that enables you to receive notice to take action on urgent legislative matters from your mobile device. We urge you to sign-up to opt-in to receive our “action alerts” via text. Text “advocate4arch” to 40649 to opt-in.

On the Boards | School Construction & State Budget/Federal Recovery Funding

School Construction Funding
As reported in June’s “Advocacy on the Boards,” a historic $416 million increase in state funding for public education is a key piece of the state’s recently passed spending plan. The budget makes investments to support the needs of schools and students, including a $200 million increase in the Fair Funding Formula, $100 million to support underfunded school districts through the Level Up initiative, $50 million in special education funding, $30 million for early education, $20 million for Ready to Learn, $11 million for preschool Early Intervention and $5 million for community colleges.

It is also worth noting that the moratorium on PlanCon has been extended with this budget cycle.

Signed into law by the Governor at the end of June and completing the FY 2021-2022 budget, SECTION 1706-E.2. (Sinking Fund Charges for School Building Projects) of HB 1348 amending the Fiscal Code (page 112 linked), notes that all school districts that submitted PlanCon applications between 7/1/17 and 11/6/17 that vote to proceed with construction no later than December 31, 2022, shall be permitted a one-time capital grant or reimbursements if grant funds are not available.

All school districts that submitted applications between July 1, 2017, and November 6, 2017, and that vote to proceed with construction and [awarded] award bids on their construction contracts no later than [July 1, 2021] December 31, 2022, shall, as permitted by law, be awarded a one-time capital grant, if available, for the approved project in lieu of approved reimbursement payments or, if not available, shall receive payments in the form of reimbursements.

On the Boards | Environment

RGGI Greenlighted
The state’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) voted earlier this month to adopt the rule that will allow the commonwealth to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. AIA Pennsylvania has supported Pennsylvania entering into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative throughout the review and regulatory process. AIA Pennsylvania was present for the Governor’s 2019 Executive Order establishing benchmarks reducing carbon pollution in Pennsylvania and later that year committed to endorsing high-performance buildings and sustainable design and construction practices and policies.

The regulation now heads to the state Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC), as well as House and Senate oversight committees for further action. IRRC determines whether a proposed rule is in the public interest, as defined by state law. If it’s approved there, it goes to the state Attorney General’s Office for a final review. The Attorney General must determine whether a proposed regulation complies with existing law. If the Attorney General’s office approves, the rule will be published in the state bulletin, where it will take effect immediately.

There could be other hurdles including an anticipated legal challenge. The Wolf Administration had aimed to join the program in early 2022.

On the Boards | Public Work

New Deputy Secretary for Public Works
Robert Carr, the Department of General Services (DGS) former Director of Business Transformation, will succeed Liz O’Reilly, retiring from the Deputy Secretary for Public Works, a role she has held since 2010. AIA Pennsylvania looks forward to working with Robert, thanks Liz for her partnership over the years and wishes her a healthy and happy retirement!