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

Advocacy 101: Engage Today for Results Tomorrow   Recently updated !

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Join us as for the online webinar, Advocacy 101 and “What’s Day on the Hill?” – You will hear from AIA Tennessee staff, leaders and members as they provide insight into advocating for the profession, what you can do and how it makes an impact. They will also explain the importance of Day on the Hill and what to expect when you participate in the annual event on Capitol Hill in Nashville.

When: Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Time: 3 pm / central (4 pm / eastern)

Cost: Free – Enroll Today!

Note: This course has been submitted for approval of 1 LU. We will update this once it has been approved by AIA National.

State Legislature Repeals Professional Privilege Tax for Architects

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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I am pleased to share with you that the professional privilege tax of architects in Tennessee has been repealed.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.

AIA Tennessee comments on “regionalism”

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In Summer of 2017, the Office of the State Architect reached out to AIA Tennessee on its position regarding “regionalism” on state project selection. After discussion at the September 2017 AIA Tennessee Board Meeting, the Board finalized the position on “regionalism”  – See below for an excerpt as well as a link to see the complete memorandum.

In August of 2017, the Office of the State Architect (“OSA”) approached AIA Tennessee regarding its position on “regionalism” related to the selection of designers on state projects. Historically, the State Building Commission (“SBC) selected designers based on the three grand divisions of Tennessee (west, middle and east). Over the past few months, the State Building Commission has noticed designers proposing for projects outside their “region”. 

The *SBC policy for designer selection is delegated to the Office of the State Architect. To date, the **OSA policy for designer selection is Tennessee firms are given primary consideration unless the State determines it is in the State’s best interest to consider non-Tennessee firms, 2. Evaluators will primarily consider Designers within the region of a project.

On September 25, 2017, the AIA Tennessee Board reviewed and discussed the referenced policies and determined the following positions.

AIA Tennessee is: 1. In full support of the SBC/OSA policy for Tennessee firms to be given primary consideration for state projects and urges the SBC/OSA to continue to uphold this policy, and 2. Believes “region” should not be defined as the three grand divisions but rather defined by desired proximity/distance to the project, and 3. Urges State Procurement Agencies to define proximity in the Project’s Request for Qualifications.

Click here to view the AIA TN 2017 Memorandum on Regionalism

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.