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Charting the profession’s priorities: 2021 – 2022 Legislative Survey insights

February 26, 2021

In line with the two-year legislative session cycle, AIA Pennsylvania looks to the membership to share their insights on key issues impacting the profession, the built environment, and Pennsylvania communities. The biennial Legislative Survey prioritizes key issues as determined by the membership.

In late 2020, 194 members shared their feedback and insights to help us chart a course for the 2021-2022 legislative session. View a snapshot of these findings below. For more insights, including a breakdown of priorities as determined by respondents’ firm size, dive into the full insights report linked below.


Legislative Priorities

The 15 issues as ranked by members and grouped into priorities by tiers as determined by the AIA Pennsylvania Government Affairs Committee. Looking for background on any of these issues? Catch the replay of “An Interactive Guide to the 2021-2022 Legislative Priorities”.

Tier 1 Legislative Priorities

  1. Encroachment on the Practice of Architecture
  2. Green Buildings and Sustainability
  3. Building Codes Updates and Protection
  4. Affordable Housing
  5. Equitable Communities
  6. Professional Services Tax

Tier 2 Legislative Priorities

  1. Historic Preservation
  2. Mechanics Lien for Design Professionals
  3. Reforming and Funding Public School Construction (PlanCon)
  4. Statute of Repose and Tort Reform
  5. Mandatory Continuing Education for Architects
  6. Business Issues Related to Running a Firm 

Tier 3 Legislative Priorities

  1. Student Loan Forgiveness for Architectural Graduates
  2. Expansion of Public-Private Partnerships (P3)
  3. State Procurement

Background on the Top Three Legislative Priorities 

1 // Encroachment on the Practice of Architecture
In recent years, we have seen a number of other industries related to the construction and design field start to encroach on the practice of architects. We have seen these cases intensify with the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the unlicensed practice of architecture in private practice, the public sector, and creative policy changes and proposals in the General Assembly. Those that would like to change the profession of architecture to benefit their occupations and professions include contractors, drafters, interior designers, engineers, energy savings companies (ESCOs), construction managers, and more. In this upcoming legislative session, AIA Pennsylvania aims to curtail this encroachment and protect the future of the profession of architecture.

2 // Green Buildings and Sustainability
The AIA Pennsylvania Subcommittee on the Environment hopes to lead or help lead the discussion in Pennsylvania regarding sustainability in the built environment and advocate for the awareness, recognition and enabling of legislation that encourages the principles of resource efficiency, renewable energy, integrated design, life cycle thinking, durability, resiliency, walkable communities and healthy interiors. The goal is to promote green building and sustainability efforts, events, conferences, successful projects, and tours across the Commonwealth.

3 // Building Codes Updates and Protection
The Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (Act 45 of 1999) established the basic requirements for the Uniform Construction Code. It has been altered thirteen times since becoming law. The Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Review and Advisory Council (RAC) was established by the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (PCCA). The Council consists of 21 members, including two architects, with appointments made by the Governor and the General Assembly. The Council is charged with making recommendations to the Governor, the General Assembly and Labor & Industry regarding proposed changes to the PCCA. The Council is also charged with reviewing the most recent triennial building code updates published by the International Code Council (ICC).

AIA Pennsylvania was an active supporter of Act 36 of 2017 which updated the PA UCC to the 2015 ICC Codes and the Philadelphia Building code to 2018 ICC IBC for commercial construction. AIA Pennsylvania currently supports an opt-out process by 2/3 majority every three years as the ICC Codes are released. This means automatic adoption of the latest suite of codes and individual code sections must achieve a 2/3 vote of the RAC to be taken out. Currently, in Pennsylvania, we are part of an opt-in voting process every 4.5 years. This means the RAC votes on each code section and requires a 2/3 majority to adopt each one. Furthermore, the delay of 4.5 years means the next version of ICC codes (2018) will not be considered for adoption until mid-2021 and may not take effect until 2022 at the earliest.

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