“The supply of government exceeds the demand”
— Lewis Lapham
Once per month we break down legislative, regulatory and executive action affecting the cost of education communities; generally limited to physical infrastructure which includes instructional spaces, athletic, healthcare, transportation, research, agricultural, food supply and arts facilities. Some universities own and operate churches, nuclear power plants and airports. In nearly every way, education communities are cities-within-cities and near-perfect study units for understanding the dynamics of civilization itself.
The education industry builds about $80 billion of new or renovated square footage it every year and took at least another $240 billion to manage it. The physical infrastructure of education communities is the largest non-residential building construction market in the United States (CLICK HERE for our coverage of the monthly US Commerce Department report on construction activity).
The $300 billion number was a fair and solid number in 2016. That number likely gets closer to $500 billion in 2021; even discounting the circumstances of the pandemic. Five-hundred billion running through any industry sets the foundation for market-making by incumbent stakeholders (“niche verticals“) using legislative processes that converge in Washington D.C.
Incumbents make markets for themselves on 2-3 fronts:
- Direct legislative influence — i.e. crafting new legislation, or revising legacy legislation.
- Writing passages in codes and standards that are incorporated by reference into new or legacy legislation
- Executive action
Some administrative information is available at the link below:
In the process of scanning through technical details in best practice literature that frighten ordinary mortals, many federal proposals get “caught in the net” of our tracking algorithm; particularly social justice issues. (We usually throw them back)
We do not advocate in legislative action at any level — we are not lobbyists or communication consultants — but it is wise to follow because, when commenting opportunities present themselves, some knowledge of action elsewhere informs our response to the development of the consensus products that do affect the cost of education in the United States. For example, from time to time we find adjustments to the “boilerplate” legislation referenced in construction project bidding documents (Davis-Bacon Act, OSHA Rules of Construction, etc.) These “adjustments” are supposed to be made public but unless you are one of the Washington insiders, you may miss them.
The ferocity of federal-level action may surprise you; with food, technology and energy-related proposals the most fierce; soon to be replaced in ferocity by legislative solutions responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We list a few proposals from the present (117th Congress) below:
From the previous (116th Congress) below; most of which automatically expire: (Which doesn’t mean that they will not be re-introduced in another form in the 117th Congress)
…. About 10 more since our September 2020 colloquium. We can prioritize attention depending upon the interest of today’s attendees. We generally steer clear of social justice issues…
…And so on. We could list another 25.
To understand how codes and standards are developed, adopted and enforced, education assets managers should keep in mind that equipment and systems do not vote. The people who invent, build, install and maintain them do vote. We find that state agencies that administer the building codes for schools, colleges and universities are heavily influenced by labor interests.
As one of the largest construction markets in the United States, labor and financial market incumbents are involved. For example, some labor unions devote resources to getting out the vote for school bond referendums in order to make work for their members. Usually this outsized influence is for the better; but not always. We devote an hour every month scanning state level action in our E Pluribus Unum meetings. See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting, open to everyone.
We are happy to walk you through all, or all of the most relevant, legislative proposals as of this posting. Our algorithm picks up public commenting opportunities that federal agencies post on changes to existing legislation on a near-hourly basis. We curate and list them a few in the link below:
Energy-related proposals that affect the education industry energy agenda has also been omitted from this list and referred to our monthly Electrical, Mechanical and Energy standards teleconferences (See our CALENDAR). Energy legislation and regulations are a crazy space and needs a separate meeting. We host a monthly Energy Standards and Management & Finance teleconference that cover public commenting opportunities in those spaces.
ANSI CEO Joe Bhatia explains the US Technology Transfer & Advancement Act at the University of Michigan.
*(CLICK HERE for our post on how the Canadian Parliament reckons with the strengths and weaknesses of this law-making technique)