Advocacy News

AIA Tennessee’s Advocacy News details on our annual Architects’ Day on the Hill event as well as current position statements and advocacy related news.

Recent News

Legislative Update – March 2020   Recently updated !

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Tennessee General Assembly Recessed Until June 1st

The General Assembly recessed early on March 19th after passing what is being called a preliminary state budget. Originally, the Lieutenant Governor and House Speaker, in an effort to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, began limiting access to the Cordell Hull Building, except for legislators, staff, and members of the media. It was also announced that both the House and Senate would take the extraordinary step of suspending all non-essential legislation and work toward passing an emergency budget.

Both the Senate and the House moved to recess until June 1st. It is the intent of the legislature to return then to finish the rest of the bills that were not addressed. Under normal circumstances, the General Assembly would adjourn sine die for the year, ending the 111th General Assembly. However, under these extraordinary circumstances, the legislature will simply recess which will allow them to return later. 

All legislation that was moving through the legislative process is essentially frozen in place. If the legislature returns, all bills will be picked up where they were left. If the legislature does not return, since it will be a new General Assembly following the elections in November, the “hopper” will be wiped clean and all legislation will be need to be re-filed. 

Of particular interest, the licensing bills had been already met their fate for the year and had been taken off notice. We expect to see some variation of most of them in 2021.

The historic tax credit bill that AIA and numerous allies have been working on was on the cusp of meaningful discussion in the Finance and Commerce committees in the House and Senate, respectively. The work our members accomplished in their districts and at Day on the Hill had yielded an impressive and growing list of cosponsors.

AIA Tennessee’s Government Relations committee will reconvene once the legislature returns. Committee, staff and lobbyist will continue to monitor all priority bills and legislation impacting architects and the built environment for when the legislature is back in session. 

“Critical Bills”

It was a short list of what the legislature deemed to be critical to the continuation of state government and included:

  • Those that impact tax collections and federal match funds that directly impact the budget
  • Holding local school districts harmless from a myriad of otherwise mandated requirements surrounding testing, attendance and graduation requirements
  • Fixes to two previously-passed bills being challenged in court
The Budget

This new budget is very different than the budget that Governor Lee presented to the General Assembly earlier this year. Nearly one billion dollars of expenses were cut in response to the emergency situation of COVID-19. The bulk of the language making up the spending plan can be found in this amendment. Some highlights include the following:

  • $200 million in grants for local governments
  • $150 million in a public health fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • $350 million into the state’s rainy day fund
  • $30 million into a TEMA fund in response to the Super Tuesday tornadoes 
  • $19 million added to state Healthcare Safety Net
  • 2% raise for teachers
  • 1% raise for state employees

Relative to buildings, the budget does include:

  • $2 million for pre-planning
  • $42 million for capital maintenance

All other major initiatives the Governor had previously rolled out in his State of the State are put on hold. This includes policy proposals aimed at early literacy, new capital outlay, mental health, abortion restrictions and gun permits, among others.

Advocacy 101: Engage Today for Results Tomorrow

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If you missed the free webinar: Advocacy 101 and “What’s Day on the Hill?”, you can download and listen to it at your convenience!  

AIA TN Board Member, Matt Lyle, Associate AIA, provides insight into advocating for the profession. He gives tips on what you can do at the state and local levels to make an impact. You’ll also learn the importance of Architects’ Legislative Day on the Hill and what to expect when you participate in the annual event in Nashville! 

Download and watch the recording.


State Legislature Repeals Professional Privilege Tax for Architects

Categories Advocacy, News, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

In 2020, architects will no longer be subject to the $400 annual professional privilege tax!

(NOTE: Licensed architects in TN must still pay the professional privilege tax this year.)


The repeal of this $400 tax affects all our 1,400 members – even those that aren’t licensed yet because they will not worry about paying it in the future – saving ALL architects licensed in TN (including non-AIA members) money!

The repeal is effective in 2020, so licensed architects in Tennessee will have to pay one last time by May 31st of this year.  Please see the message below from AIA Tennessee’s president, Josh Flowers, FAIA. 

President’s Message

AIA Tennessee Members,

I am pleased to share with you that the professional privilege tax of architects in Tennessee has been repealed. As many of you know, this tax was enacted eighteen years ago as a result of intense negotiation involving AIA Tennessee members and advocates and was reached as a compromise to avoid more severe tax burdens impacting the profession.

The repeal came as the result of House and Senate negotiation of the budget for fiscal year 2019/2020 over the past week to address $22 million the state was receiving for the first time from online sales tax revenue. As lawmakers debated how offset this new revenue with tax reductions elsewhere in the budget, AIA Tennessee was at the table as the voice of architects to advocate for tax benefits to the profession.

With support from other affected professions, legislators advocated for the long-maligned professional privilege tax to be repealed. This $400 annual tax has been the subject of bills since its enactment, and in this year’s budget (passed unanimously in the House and Senate), this new revenue was dedicated to repealing the professional privilege tax. As a result, an amendment to SB398/HB1262 was drafted to accomplish this and has been passed in both the House and Senate yesterday, May 1, 2019.

In the legislation as amended the following professions are all now exempt from the professional privilege tax beginning May 31, 2020:

  1. accountants,
  2. architects,
  3. athlete agents,
  4. audiologists,
  5. chiropractors,
  6. dentists,
  7. engineers,
  8. landscape architects,
  9. optometrists,
  10. pharmacists,
  11. podiatrists,
  12. psychologists,
  13. real estate brokers,
  14. speech pathologists, and
  15. veterinarians

Remaining in statute and paying the $400 tax are:

  1. lobbyists,
  2. broker-dealers,
  3. investment advisers,
  4. physicians and
  5. attorneys.

This was an issue that the majority of other professions have supported. AIA TN has proceeded with caution over the course of this debate to ensure that repeal would not result in a future tax on services, but this year the General Assembly was adamant that no new taxes would be considered. AIA Tennessee will of course remain vigilant in opposing any future taxes on the profession or other regulations that would negatively impact members.

On behalf of AIA Tennessee, I want to express thanks to AIA Tennessee Executive Vice President Ashley Cates, our lobbyists Bill Nolan and Lindsay Spain, and the AIA Tennessee Government Relations Committee for their work in achieving this result and for their tireless advocacy for our members, firms, and the practice of architecture in Tennessee. We look forward to sharing further updates from the legislative session soon. Thank you as always to our members for your support of the profession.

Josh Flowers, FAIA
President, AIA Tennessee


Support State Historic Preservation Tax Incentives

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Thank you to everyone that supported the Main Street Historic Tourism and Revitalization Act this year. Unfortunately, the legislation was not included in the budget. However, your voice was heard on TN’s Capitol Hill! You raised awareness of the importance of a state historic tax incentives and educated hundreds of people about the issue. Let’s keep up the momentum and fighting for Tennessee’s historic built environment.

Tennessee’s main street and downtown communities throughout the state – both rural and urban – will benefit from tax incentives. The goal is to attract private capital to revitalize historic buildings and main street communities, creating desirable places to live and work. Job creation and economic development are proven effects of state historic rehabilitation programs.

Overview & Resources

  • Main Street Historic Tourism and Revitalization Act – Legislative Summary
    • This is a overview of the SB 1053 / HB 1063 sponsored by Senator Bo Watson and Rep. Kevin Vaughn in 2019.
  • TN Historic Project Case Studies & Potential Projects
    • This is a list of projects that were completed in Tennessee utilizing the Federal Historic Tax Credit as well as a list of potential projects that could be completed if Tennessee had a Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
  • Report on State Historic Tax Credits: Maximizing Preservation, Community Revitalization, and Economic Impact (November 2018) – The National Trust envisions a future where leaders who make decisions impacting our neighborhoods consider the reuse of historic buildings an essential strategy to create more inclusive, prosperous, and resilient communities. The National Trust has long supported the enactment of state historic tax credits (HTC) as a way of promoting building reuse.
    • Just one example provided in the study:
        “Without historic tax credits, projects like mine would not be feasible. Since I took the risk
        to rehabilitate the former 1940s Sears building into a 28-room boutique hotel and loft
        apartments, nine or ten other properties have been sold along the street. We now have
        nearly 75 employees [in the hotel, restaurant and bar] and it’s hard to find a parking spot
        downtown. What a good problem to have.”
        My Hometown from Blue Magnolia Films on Vimeo.
  • Federal Historic Tax Preservation Projects in Tennessee (2002-2016) 
    • A total of 173 Federal Historic Tax Credit projects received Part 3 certifications from the National Park Service between fiscal year 2002 through 2016, resulting in over $600 million in total development. This report lists all of these projects. Without this critical funding, some of these projects never would have happened.

Current Media Coverage

View President Reagan’s speech about the Federal Historic Tax Credit.

Tennessee is failing to attract the private capital attracted by neighboring states (particularly Virginia) with state historic rehabilitation programs.The program would preserve our state’s unique history and character, while also creating jobs and generating new state and local tax revenue that more than pays for the cost of the incentive.Often the rehabilitation of a dormant and vacant building has a positive, catalytic impact on the surrounding neighborhood and community, spurring revitalization of a blighted area.

Many would benefit from this program:

  • TN downtowns seeking to revitalize dormant or vacant historic buildings into new businesses, housing and tourist attractions
  • Property owners who currently cannot afford to rehabilitate or convert historic buildings to code
  • Small businesses seeking an attractive space for customers
  • Civic leaders who want to see property values and tax revenues increased to pay for local services
  • State leaders who want to see economic growth, increased state revenues (by putting vacant historic structures back on the tax revenue rolls) and job creation.

Gubernatorial Forum: The Built Environment 

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Save the date for a unique gubernatorial forum focused on issues surrounding Tennessee’s built environment.
This is an exclusive event – during which candidates for Tennessee governor will share their views on topics directly relevant to your profession.

Mark your calendar today! You don’t want to miss this important event for Tennessee architects, engineers, builders and others involved in creating and maintaining our state’s built environment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Time: 11:00 am: doors open
11:30 am: lunch
12:00 – 1:30 pm: forum
City Winery, 609 Lafayette Street, Nashville, TN 37203


Register Now!


This event is presented by SMPS Nashville and the Tennessee chapters of ACEC, AGC, AIA and CMFA.

Read more recent Advocacy News updates…

Advocacy Archives

DesignVote10 – The AIA Online Voter Guide

October 7, 2010

For the first time, in an effort to inform members on the results of the Rebuild & Renew legislative campaign launched in 2008, the AIA has developed an online voter guide. It is our hope that this guide will provide pertinent information to voters both within and outside of the Institute on legislation that impacts architects and the built environment. | More…

Pertinent Bills Introduced

February 5, 2010

One of AIA Tennessee’s major focus points is on managing and encouraging legislation that benefits our architect members and the constuction community.  Read on for information on bills currently introduced that pertain to you. | More…

State Building Commission

Dec 1, 2009

The constitutional officers are currently revising the architect/engineer selection process.  AIA Tennessee is assisting in this effort.  Six architects are working with the Treasurer’s office to craft the document.  Warren Goodwin, FAIA; chairs the architect participation; and he is assisted by Bill Beaty, FAIA; Bill Blankenship, AIA; Kelly Headden, AIA; Peter Heimbach, AIA; and Al Thomas, AIA.

State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO)

Dec 1, 2009

We are so proud of our collaborative relationship and the modernization being completed at the SFMO.  In addition to adoption of the International family of codes, the Department passed a comprehensive Dispute Resolution Process and is currently testing its electronic plans review system. The SFMO will travel the state later this fall to provide training in electronic plans submissions.