By Brandon Gossard, AIA, associate at Anderson Hallas Architects, Government Affairs Committee Chair and State and Local Government Network Liaison
The Government Affairs Committee (GAC) has, along with all of us, worked to find a new normal in these unusual times. Now meeting exclusively remotely during the pandemic, the committee has continued to evaluate the bills that have been proposed in the current legislative session. With the session currently paused, the GAC has been reaching out to State legislators who are now be prioritizing and dropping bills for the anticipated abbreviated legislative session prior to the end of the year. It is expected that only the most critical bills and those required by law (such as the setting of the next budget) will be taken up once the session resumes. With the ongoing stay-at-home orders and associated economic slow-down it is anticipated that the State will be required to adjust their proposed budget and significant cuts to school funding may come with it.
The State and Local Government Network of the AIA connects the various state chapters and AIA National together with a forum to discuss pertinent topics and share information from each State. Since March it is no surprise that the topic that has received the most attention is how states are reacting to the threat posed by COVID-19. In particular the fact that many states have put in place stay-at-home orders that limit the operation of non-essential businesses. In many cases states have narrowly provided exceptions to architects that are providing ongoing contract administration for active construction projects however the remaining staff are required to work from home.
To address this narrow exception there has been additional discussion on what the standard of care is related to site visits during the crisis. The critical challenge of maintaining the standard of care is that the traditional standard of care is what a reasonable architect in a similar position would do under similar conditions, which cannot be reasonably assessed during the crisis and may only be answered in retrospect. It is left to us in the present to determine what the appropriate steps are to protect the individuals on the job site, and within the architecture firm be it through reduced site visits, remote viewing technology, or other measure.