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AIA Wisconsin Advocacy
2013 State Legislative Agenda

AIA Wisconsin members support state policies that will help revive the design and construction industry as well as encourage sustainable economic growth in communities across the state.

Wisconsin architects are on the leading edge of the state’s building industry – an important sector of the economy that accounts for one out of every nine dollars of economic activity. Architects also are small businesspeople.  More than 60% of all architectural firms have fewer than five employees.  Small businesses are the source for most job growth.

With 1,300 individual members, AIA Wisconsin is the state society of the American Institute of Architects, representing architects in private practice, business, industry, government and education.  Member architects are interested in legislation and administrative rules that directly affect the profession of architecture as well as proposals that impact Wisconsin’s economic climate, natural environment and quality of life.

The following provides a summary of AIA Wisconsin positions on a variety of issues that may be addressed and debated during the 2013-14 session of the Wisconsin Legislature.

Jobs Jobs Jobs
AIA Wisconsin supports initiatives to encourage economic growth and development.  When architects are working, the state will be building.

State Building Program
AIA Wisconsin supports a capital budget for the biennium that provides adequate funding for the state building program, including repairs, maintenance, remodeling and new construction.

Sales Tax Expansion
AIA Wisconsin is opposed to legislative proposals that would stifle economic development by expanding the sales tax to architectural and other services.

Architect Selection
AIA Wisconsin supports legislation that would require the use of a qualifications-based selection (QBS) process for procuring architectural and engineering services for the design of local government and school district building projects.

AIA Wisconsin supports proposals to adjust existing state licensing requirements to make it easier for Wisconsin architects to become credentialed to practice in other states.

State Building Codes
AIA Wisconsin supports coordinated and contemporary state building codes that are developed by consensus, with the active participation of architects and allied design and construction industry professionals.

Permitting & Sustainability
AIA Wisconsin supports state initiatives to streamline the building permit process and encourage sustainable and energy efficient buildings.

Community Development
AIA Wisconsin supports state programs that encourage livable communities and public participation in local planning and development process.


AIA Wisconsin architects and allied professionals are working in communities across the state to revitalize neighborhoods, conserve energy and other resources, improve public infrastructure and help position our state for economic growth.  Meeting the challenges faced by many of our communities demands a strong design and construction industry that is ready and able to respond.

Since the start of the Great Recession, architecture firms have collectively seen their revenue plummet by 40%.  Between 2007 and 2011, nearly a third of the positions at architecture firms disappeared.  It’s time to encourage Wisconsin to start building again by taking appropriate steps to make financing available for projects, remove regulatory burdens for small business, jump start the market for retrofitting existing buildings and advance policies to support sustainable economic growth.

Investing in the state building program and other necessary infrastructure improvements provides a direct stimulus to Wisconsin’s economy.  It is estimated that each $100 million of construction spending adds $340 million to the economy and creates or sustains 2,850 jobs.  All this activity starts when architects get to work on building design.  The state is the largest building owner in Wisconsin, with over 6,200 buildings and an estimated backlog of building maintenance needs of over $1.2 billion, including UW System facilities.  To protect this significant investment, reduce energy costs in the future and help stimulate additional economic activity, it is important to adequately fund and expand the state building program.

In contrast, any proposal to expand the state sales tax to architectural and other professional services would adversely affect attempts to turn around the state’s economy.  Such a state tax increase would place Wisconsin firms at a competitive disadvantage, impede economic activity by increasing front-end development costs, hit small businesses the hardest, and create significant administrative and compliance problems.

The Department of Administration, Division of Facilities Development, uses a qualifications-based selection (QBS) process for selecting architects and engineers for state building projects.  Another 47 states have similar QBS requirements for their projects.  QBS is required for federal projects as well as for public projects supported by federal funding.  QBS also is recommended by the American Bar Association and the American Public Works Association.  Proposed QBS legislation for local government building projects using state funds has been introduced in previous legislative sessions.  It makes sense to require local governments to use limited state funds as effectively as possible by selecting the most qualified architects for their building projects.

Architects are licensed in all 50 states to protect public health, safety and welfare, with each state establishing minimum education, experience and examination requirements.  AIA Wisconsin supports adjusting initial licensing requirements for architects to more closely correspond to those in other states.  This would enhance the value of the state’s architect credential and help expand opportunities for Wisconsin architects to work on projects in other states.

State building codes need to be comprehensive, coordinated and contemporary.  It is important that code development through the administrative rule-making process involves the active participation of architects, incorporates the latest research, prevents favoritism or bias to any special interest, insures that code requirements are cost-effective in relation to public benefit, and promotes building code provisions that set performance rather than prescriptive standard.

AIA Wisconsin members also support policies and programs that would streamline building permitting, promote sustainable architecture and encourage redevelopment of existing buildings.  For example, the American Institute of Architects worked closely with the International Code Council to develop the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).  By adopting the IgCC, Wisconsin would encourage energy conservation and waste reduction in the design, construction and operation of buildings for the benefit of current and future generations.



Please contact AIA Wisconsin for more information on these and other issues of interest to AIA Wisconsin members and the state’s design and construction industry.

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