DRM Hired as Legislative Consultant for AIAVT
By Matthew Bushey, AIA; Member of the Lobbyist Task Force
For years, AIAVT members have imagined that if we had a lobbyist representing us in Montpelier, our interests would be better served, and our efforts would be more effective. We are excited to say that time has come.
AIAVT has now entered into an agreement for legislative consulting services with the government affairs practice team of Downs Rachlin Martin (DRM).
AIAVT’s Advocacy Work in 2023
The volunteers on the Public Policy Committee (PPC), and others, have been extremely busy this year, working on issues that have potential to majorly affect our work as architects.
- Bob Duncan and Sandy Vitzthum have served since October on the Building Energy Code Study Committee, which finalized their recommendations to the legislature for increasing compliance with RBES and CBES.
- The PPC is working with the DFS Act 47 Study Committee, suggesting modifications to the Vermont building code to encourage housing in Vermont.
- David Epstein is serving on the Vermont School Construction Aid Task Force, chaired by State Treasurer Michael Pieciak and acting Vermont Secretary of Education Heather Bouchey
- and Donna Leban is an AIAVT Rep on the VT Clean Heat Standard Technical Advisory Committee.
The success of these issues – and others that the PPC is working on - hinge on support by the legislature and the Scott administration. We are experts in our field, but we need the guidance of an experienced lobbying firm to navigate the halls of the State House.
Over the past 12 months, our Lobbyist Task Force has been researching and planning for the hiring of a lobbying firm. This work was conducted in close coordination with our Public Policy Committee. Over the summer, AIAVT issued an RFP to a preselected group of lobbying firms. We received several proposals and interviewed firms in November.
DRM was selected as a clear first choice by the members of the Search Committee due to their familiarity with the policy issues AIAVT is focused on. RBES & CBES education and enforcement is a complex topic, but one that DRM is already well versed in due to their work with VBRA, an allied organization that is also in support of greater compliance with VT’s energy codes. . We are excited to have representation in Montpelier for the 2024 legislative session.
Developing a Sustainable Funding Plan
Much of the work of the Task Force has been to develop a sustainable, achievable funding strategy. Our approach is a multi-pronged strategy, with multiple revenue sources to fund this effort:
- The Board of Directors has approved using a portion of member’s dues to help fund a lobbying firm. This is something members have expressed support for in the past, through surveys and feedback.
- AIAVT has rolled out a new Corporate Allied Partners program (CAP), with bronze, silver and gold level membership for our Allied members. This program provides stronger relationships with our allied members and increased revenue.
- We are reaching out to select Vermont architecture firms and are asking for a 3-year commitment of support. These conversations have been wonderful. Every firm we have spoken with has expressed enthusiastic support for hiring a lobbyist and is happily contributing.
- Lastly, we are appealing to every AIAVT individual member. You should have received a letter in the mail describing this effort and why hiring a lobbyist is so important. Any level of support is helpful, but to provide a suggested level of giving, we are inviting everyone to participate in our One Billable Hour campaign. If every AIAVT member were to contribute an amount equal to one billable hour of your time, we would be well on our way to the funding levels we need.
If you have questions or thoughts on our lobbyist efforts, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sarah or to any of the members on the Lobbyist Task Force: John Alden, David Epstein, Rob Bast, or Matt Bushey.
Please also visit aiavt.org/advocacy to submit comments to the PPC: What issues are important to you that you would like to see us pursue?
And while online, click ‘DONATE’ to contribute. Together, and with the right representation, we can be a more effective voice in Montpelier, which will benefit all of us.