There is something encouraging about the start of a new year. We are hopeful that things will be better — maybe even that it will be “our year.” We make resolutions, challenging ourselves to success. Of course, things don’t always work out the way we imagine, but we appreciate the idea of a tabula rasa, looking ahead.
In thinking about the coming year and the goals for our organization, I am fueled by the hope that this could in fact be our year as architects: our year to really be present, present in all venues where we ought to be recognized as thought leaders, problem-solvers, and facilitators. This could be our opportunity to emerge better represented for who we are and what we do. A huge part of this is how we advocate for ourselves — our work, our concerns as designers of the built environment, and the health of our profession.
Being engaged in the legislative process is a fundamental aspect of protecting and advocating for our profession. It allows us to participate in the conversations that impact our daily practice, our liability, and our prosperity. Architects Day is February 21. If you have never attended this event, please consider doing so. It may change the way you think about our profession and how it is represented alongside the plethora of issues under consideration by our elected officials at the state level. If you have attended, then you know that this is our opportunity to get in front of our legislators and show them what is important to our practice.
2023 will see the opening of another legislative session. It is understandably difficult to survey the political landscape and manage to feel encouraged, or to find it relatable — let alone to want to apply any of the legislature’s doings to our profession. In fact, the election cycle and its antics can erode our faith in the democratic system. However, as we are professional people, and as the work that we do affects the public, it is important that we remain involved: Issues brought to and addressed by the legislature can affect architectural practice in unexpected ways.
Our Government Affairs Steering Committee — along with Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy Becky Walker, and our lobbyist, Kathy Grant — all have been working diligently to set our legislative agenda for the 2023 session. That agenda has been divided into three methods of address: As an organization, we can (1) lead the charge, (2) engage discussion, or (3) monitor progress. The highest priority items, those being professional licensure, required thresholds for architectural services, and frivolous litigation are ones which we will take the lead on. On some other issues, we will continue to pursue dialogue and push for progress; and, on still others, we will keep an eye out for movement or change. Additionally, there is a newly instituted process for you, our members, to submit any other issues for GASCom to consider working into this tiered framework.
Please join me in Austin in February. It is our opportunity to be present — to represent who we are, and what it is that architects do.
Nicki Marrone, AIA, is a principal at Alamo Architects in San Antonio and the 2023 TxA president.