By Alexander Martin, Assoc. AIA
Newly proposed legislation aims to ease continuing education reporting requirements for Colorado architects.
Architects who have completed their Colorado continuing education requirements will be familiar with the state’s rules regarding documentation. Specific language in the Architects Section of the Practice Act directs the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to adopt rules establishing regulations for continuing education and requiring an architect to demonstrate retention of the material presented in a continuing education course. That particular point about demonstrating retention of the material has proven especially onerous for architects throughout the state. While it might sound quite reasonable at first blush, the requirement actually ends up serving no meaningful purpose for the public or the profession.
Architects either pass a test provided by the continuing education course presenter and retain a copy for their records, or they use a DORA Structured Report form to write up a few paragraphs about the course that they then retain for their records. Nothing is done with this paperwork unless an architect is audited, and it serves no other meaningful purpose. In other words, it’s unnecessary bureaucracy. Moreover, it has made regulatory compliance uniquely burdensome for architects. The requirement to demonstrate course material retention is not typical among other licensed professions in Colorado, nor is it common for architects in other states either.
In 2008, AIA Colorado worked with state legislators to introduce SB08-029: Continuing Education Architects, which established continuing education requirements for architects as licensed professionals charged with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. This was part of an AIA push to promote nationwide continuing education standards, which now exist in 47 of the 54 jurisdictions that license architects. In the final version of SB08-029, however, DORA successfully lobbied to include language requiring architects to maintain “professional competency” and prove they retained the knowledge presented in continuing education courses. As there is no legal standard regarding “professional competency,” that language was removed two years later in HB10-1148 Architect License Renew Professional Competency.
In 2020, as the DORA Architects/Engineers/Land Surveyors (AES) Board updated its rules, AIA Colorado formally recommended that the material retention requirement be simplified. The AES Board determined the current arrangement was indeed the best solution they could develop to comply with the law as written. As a result, AIA Colorado has been working with lawmakers to introduce legislation removing the material retention requirement altogether, allowing the DORA AES Board to simplify their continuing education rules. Removing this language promotes consistency across professions and reduces unnecessary regulatory requirements.
On March 3, 2021, HB21-1147: Simplify Architects Continuing Education Requirement was introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives and referred to the Business Affairs and Labor Committee for consideration. The bill has received bipartisan support from legislators interested in reducing unnecessary bureaucracy. Primary sponsors of the bill include Rep. Donald Valdez, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, Sen. Chris Hansen, and Sen. Cleave Simpson, as well as 16 additional co-sponsors.
On March 17, 2021, our bill passed 13-0 in the house business committee and will move on to a full house vote. Thanks to the following members for testifying in support of this bill: Erin Braunstein, AIA; T J Carvis, AIA; Amy Graves, AIA; Chris Green, AIA; President Rachael Johnson, AIA; and Nikolaus Remus, AIA, Advocacy Engagement Director.
For questions about this initiative, contact Remus at email@example.com.
About the Author
Alexander Martin, Assoc. AIA, is a Project Manager at KTGY Architecture + Planning.