ASLA’s 2021-2022 Federal Legislative Priorities

With a new theme of Climate Change and Resilience and a focus on Equity and Environmental Justice, there are four issues that underlie federal legislative priority areas.

ASLA’s Executive Committee endorsed the final Federal Priorities Agenda for the 117th Congress during their December call. With a new theme of Climate Change and Resilience and a focus on Equity and Environmental Justice, the following four issues underlie federal legislative priority areas:

1) Parks and Recreation
2) Transportation Planning and Design
3) Water and Stormwater Management
4) Housing and Community Development

The Executive Committee’s federal priorities agenda endorsement comes just in time as Congress and the new administration are gearing up for significant work on climate change, equity, and infrastructure issues.   

The ASLA government affairs team began the nearly year-long process for determining the Society’s federal priorities for the next two years in April 2020 when they surveyed the entire ASLA membership on federal and state issues ASLA members believed the Society should include in its upcoming agendas. ASLA received 2,372 responses from members to the survey, the largest number of responses since the survey began and more than double the last survey in 2018.

The ASLA government affairs team and the Government Affairs Advisory Committee (GAAC) reviewed, vetted, and analyzed the results of the survey and formulated a set of recommended legislative issues for the 2021-2022 legislative session. The ASLA government team presented the recommendations to the Executive Committee during their summer 2020 meeting. Based on the input by the Executive Committee and the GAAC, the team presented this set of federal priorities for discussion with the Board of Trustees at their fall 2020 meeting, then moving to the Executive Committee for the final review process in December.

ASLA team members and the GAAC used the following elements to develop an effective federal policy agenda. In order to make the most strategic decisions regarding priority issues, these filters should be applied. It is unlikely that any issue will satisfy every condition; however, greater priority should be given to those meeting multiple ones. The four filters are:

1) Landscape Architecture Expertise – landscape architects must have expertise that will allow ASLA and its members to play a leadership role on the issue.
2) Member Relevancy – the issue must be relevant to a broad swath of ASLA’s membership.
3) Federal Nexus – the issue must be one over which Congress or a federal department/agency has jurisdiction.
 4) Timeliness – there must be reason to believe that the issue is likely to be on the Congressional or administration’s agenda in 2021-2022.

This year, the survey included specific questions on climate change policy and including landscape architecture in a Green New Deal. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with ASLA members strongly agreeing that climate change was important to them both personally and professionally. Additionally, ASLA members also heavily favor ASLA working to include landscape architecture in a Green New Deal.

Based on these questions and the ranking of the issues, ASLA government affairs and the GAAC changed the format for the ASLA Federal Priorities Agenda for 2021-2022 by creating a theme and focus through which the other underlying issue areas would be filtered. Due to being ranked the most important issue for the second cycle in a row, along with other survey feedback, climate change and resilience was elevated to an overarching theme which all legislation and regulation ASLA works on should take into account. Additionally, based on the survey results, Equity and Environmental Justice were raised to a focus for ASLA government affairs. This means that all actions must be viewed through this lens and every legislative and regulatory effort must include a push for equity and environmental justice.

For several cycles, small business, historic preservation, and scenic issues ranked at the very bottom of importance to survey respondents, providing ASLA clear directives on policy issues the federal government affairs team will work on this Congress.


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