Since being installed as President, I have tried to attend the various Section awards and installation dinners. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues. Congratulations to all of the new Section officers and trustees throughout the State. The Sections are truly the backbone of our organization.
Beginning February 2, 2011, a delegation of AIA New Jersey members descended upon Washington DC for our annual Grassroots Leadership Conference. This conference provides a forum to meet the National staff, mingle with other AIA chapters across the country, share stories of our collective successes and ultimately meet with our Congressional representatives to lobby on your behalf. Our blueprint to help rebuild Main Street comprised of four issues:
1. 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 Bank Bonds Act, which unleashes the market for sounder, more straightforward financing alternatives to risky, exotic Wall Street securities; and 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.
2. 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 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.
3. Jumpstart Market For Building Retrofits As 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 $1.80sf to $3.00sf.
4. Pass 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. Architects have a long record of providing solutions that get our communities moving again; all we need is for Washington to act. Congress needs to enact transportation reform legislation this year that gives people real choices in how they move.
Finally, there were three additional highlights to the Grassroots conference. First, AIA New Jersey’s committee on the environment received national recognition for component excellence for their 2010 East Coast Green conference. Congratulations to Verity Frizzell and the entire committee for this well deserved award. Next, during our opening session, David DelVecchio, AIA gave his campaign speech for the position of AIA Vice President. Dave is a Past President of AIA New Jersey and a former Regional Director. I’d like to personally congratulate Dave for raising New Jersey’s voice at the National level. Finally, I’d like to congratulate Robin Murray, FAIA. Just prior to departing for Washington, AIA New Jersey was informed that Robin had been elevated to the College of Fellows. Robin is a distinguished architect and educator who led our organization both as President and as a Regional Director. Please join me in applauding her recognition and thanking her for her service to our organization.
I began this article with my appreciation for becoming AIA New Jersey’s 2011 President. To that end, I would love to hear the thoughts and concerns of our members so this organization can better serve you. Please feel free to contact me. I can best be reached via email at [email protected]. Thank you, and I look forward to a wonderful and productive year.