This bill is being introduced in Massachusetts
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New video about the lawsuit challenging Florida’s anticompetitive interior design law.
The Institute for Justice’s Clark Neily explains the growth of red tape and licensing laws which have led to an explosion of governmental controls on occupations that were never regulated before. Legislation has always been abused as a weapon to suppress competition, starting with attempting to prevent African Americans from getting a leg up, to now restricting many other people from working in the fields of their choice. It’s an ugly history that has been continued now as a tool of special interest groups who want to exclude others.
In fact, as David Harrington of Kenyon College explains, this sort of legislation is also most likely to exclude minorities and midcareer job changers. See “Designed to Exclude” for more information on this.
Can you say “discrimination”? And “antithesis of the American Dream”? Sure, I knew you could.
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A new study by economics professors David E. Harrington and Jaret Treber of Kenyon College entitled “Designed to Exclude: How Interior Design Insiders Use Government Power to Exclude Minorities & Burden Consumers” reveals some shocking information.
Not only is interior design legislation anticompetitive in general, but it specifically disproportionately excludes blacks, Hispanics, and midlife career-changers.
Yes, these laws are inherently discriminatory against minorities and older people.
Since minorities are 30% less likely to have college degrees than whites, they are also that much more likely to be shut out of the field. Likewise, older designers are 12% less likely to have degrees in regulated states, so they too are more likely to be prevented from starting an interior design career later in life.
Such legislation has also been shown to result in significantly higher prices for consumers, as the lower-priced competition is simply legislated out of existence. Design firms in regulated states have been shown to earn as much as $7,200,000 more in cities of 1,000,000 that in similarly sized cities in states that do not regulate the practice of interior design.
Which is pretty much what we’ve said all along – that the goal of such legislation is to shut out the competition, and will result in increased prices for consumers – and not-so-coincidentally, considerably higher salaries for the few who can meet the requirements – or who are allowed to.
Which is certainly nice work if you can get it, and I’ve got nothing against people earning more money if they are capable of doing so honestly, but shutting out competition by legislating it out of existence, particularly when that legislation clearly discriminates disproportionately against minorities and mid-life career changers, and that there is no valid and documentable other reason is just plain abuse of the legislative system.
Good old supply and demand economics dictates that if you decrease the supply of providers, and the demand for services remains the same, then the prices are just going to go up – which is bad news for most consumers, particularly in this recessionary economy.
Because of the effects of grandfathering, the apparent effects on wages are also likely diluted and thereby understated. Having a degree also correlates positively with higher wages, at the expense of experience. This means that even designers with little or no experience but who do have a degree in design could command higher fees than those who actually have the practical experience required to really excel in this field! In unregulated states, experience counts for more than it does in regulated states, and formal schooling for less.
The costs to entrepreneurs is likewise dramatically higher in regulated states than in those that do not control the practice of interior design.
Furthermore, this study also documents the problematic effects (and attendant costs) of the loss of variety of points of view and styles, and limitations on consumer choice that regulation brings. Given the diversity of the population as a whole, especially across racial and ethnic lines, and the accompanying range of preferences, it’s important to ensure that designers who cater to unusual and different tastes will be around to serve these groups.
Regulation, as it turns out, also encourages designers to cater more to the tastes of the masses than to different niches, which can only result in a loss of variety and richness in options and spaces. In a field that is supposed to be all about creativity and options, it would be a tragedy to so restrict the range of options that are available to consumers who are not interested in the status quo. Uniformity is not an asset in a creative field.
Sadly, this sort of limitation could easily expand if the schools become set up as the sole arbiters of taste and style, which a system of mandatory regulation only encourages.
I saw it myself in my own design school training – we were not only not encouraged to develop our own individual styles, but we were actually penalized if what we produced differed too much from what the instructors’ and the institutions’ tastes and styles were. The result can be an absolute crushing of a student’s own inherent taste and style, and stifling of creativity, failure to teach how to build on what’s working or to develop any different ideas, etc. I had to fight hard to break away from that stifling little box and to put it in its place as just another tool I can now draw on now, instead of letting it turn into the sole dictator of what is right and correct, or appealing. I learned a lot of value in design school – but encouragement and development of my own creativity and ideas was certainly not part of their agenda, and not part of the skill set it helped me develop. The net result is that design (and architecture) schools tend to crank out students whose work all bears a striking similarity to the work of all other students. The schools each have their own “look”, and heaven help the student who wants to do anything else.
Please read this excellent study, which draws its conclusions from reputable and readily available data sources, specifically the National Census, obituaries, and others, and from rigorous statistical analysis of the data.
Another nail in the coffin of anticompetitive interior design legislation in Florida. As noted, legislation of this nature is likely to have broad implications for designers of professional kitchens throughout the country if they are not licensed interior designers, and bodes well for complete overturn of the Florida practice act (see further information on the preliminary injunction regarding title act provisions here).
By extension, recognizing that the design of complex facilities such as commercial kitchens do not require any sort of licensing is likely to have further positive implications for aborting, overturning, and preventing passage of other anticompetitive interior design laws in other states as well.
“Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill into law which exempts foodservice equipment dealers from long-standing legislation that prohibited them to design commercial kitchens. The proposed bill, which was passed by the Florida House of Representatives in Early May, included an amendment to allow dealers, as well as foodservice equipment manufacturers and their reps, to continue designing or aiding in the design of commercial kitchens in Florida as they have done so, but now on a legal basis.
Before Gov. Crist signed the bill, in Florida, only certified interior designers were legally able to design commercial kitchens. ”
Read the rest of this article at http://www.fesmag.com/article/CA6666271.html?nid=3454&rid=12726435
CCIDC needs your help
We are looking for Certified Interior Designers who have been denied plan check for their non-structural, non-seismic interior design plans by the Los Angeles Dept. of Building & Safety (LADBS) and
If you reside in the City of Los Angeles and are willing to contact your Los Angeles city council member, our goal is to set up a meeting with the LA Dept. of Building & Safety (LADBS) to discuss their overly restrictive policy as it relates to their document number P/BC 2002-073, (Policy on Signed and Wet Stamped plans).
Thus far, attempts to meet with LADBS to discuss their policy have been rebuffed by their Chief Building Officer (CBO). If you have had this experience of being denied plan check for relatively simple interior design plans, and are willing to go to your city council member to request a meeting with the head of the LADBS, please E-mail Doug Stead, CCIDC’s Executive Vice President, at email@example.com. Thank you.
Florida judge defends designers’ First Amendment rights! This is yet the latest example of the courts upholding our right to call ourselves interior designers without restriction, and to freely advertise exactly what we do. The dominos are falling one by one, but more and more quickly now. Spread the word!
From Clark Neily of the Institute for Justice:
Great news in the Florida interior design case! Yesterday Judge Hinkle entered a preliminary injunction order ordering the State Board to stop enforcing the title provisions of Florida’s interior design law. I have attached a copy of the order, but here’s what this means in practical terms:
- Anyone who is lawfully performing interior design services in Florida may now use the terms “interior designer,” “interior design,” “space planning,” etc. to describe themselves and their work. There is no requirement to preface those terms with the word “residential.”
- While the order is en effect, the State Board may not proceed with any enforcement action that have already been commenced.
- Technically, this is not a final order, and it could be withdrawn by the judge at a later date. Given the particular facts of this case, however, I consider that extremely unlikely, nor would it happen overnight. Bottom line, we are telling people that while there is a possibility that the order could be withdrawn, the odds of that happening appear very small.
- The order does not affect the practice-related restrictions of Florida’s interior design law, which means that non-licensees are still limited to performing residential interior design services only. We will now turn our attention to the law’s practice restrictions, which will be a more challenging — but very exciting — effort.
- We encourage all of you to publicize this development through whatever networks or contacts you might have… But in terms of telling people informally about the injunction order and what it means, please don’t hold back — it’s important that we get the word out about this far and wide.
Here’s the text of the actual order:
(You can also find the order as a PDF here. Please forward it far and wide.)
Case 4:09-cv-00193-RH-WCS Document 32 Filed 08/07/2009 Page 1 of 2
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
EVA LOCKE, et al.,
JOYCE SHORE, et al.,
Civil Action No.
THIS MATTER is before the Court on the parties’ Agreed Motion For
Preliminary Injunction. Upon consideration of the motion and the representations of
counsel and it appearing to the Court that the Motion is well taken,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED THAT:
1. The First Amendment protects people’s right to speak truthfully about services
they lawfully perform. This includes advertising that uses terms that accurately describe
services a person legally provides and that accurately describe the person providing those
2. Under Florida law, anyone may perform residential interior design services
without being licensed by or registered with the state. Accordingly, the plaintiffs and
other nonlicensees may lawfully perform residential interior design services in Florida,
and they have a right under the First Amendment to advertise those services using terms
that accurately describe themselves and the services they lawfully provide.
Case 4:09-cv-00193-RH-WCS Document 32 Filed 08/07/2009 Page 2 of 2
3. In light of the foregoing, the defendants and their officers, agents, servants,
employees, and attorneys, and other persons who are in active concert or participation
with them,(1) are hereby enjoined from enforcing the statutory restrictions on the use by
unlicensed or unregistered individuals who lawfully practice interior design of the
specific statutory terms in Fla. Stat. §§ 481.223(1)(c) and 481.229(6)(a) and any other
“words to that effect” to truthfully describe themselves and the services they lawfully
4. This agreed injunction shall remain in effect until further order of the Court,
and it is expressly understood and acknowledged by the parties that (a) the order applies
to disciplinary actions already commenced or that could have been commenced by the
Board of Architecture and Interior Design; and (b) the Board may not take action against
any person for actions taken in accordance with the agreed injunction order while it was
in effect, even if the order is later withdrawn or dissolved.
SO ORDERED on August 7, 2009.
s/Robert L. Hinkle
United States District Judge
(1) The parties’ agreed preliminary injunction would also enjoin “potential ‘affected
persons’ under Fla. Stat. § 481.223(3)(a)&(b).” They cite no authority for enjoining
nonparties in addition to those listed in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d)(2). This
order tracks the rule. Except for this change, this order is the same as proposed by the
Help for victims of Florida’s WITCH HUNT!
The Institute for Justice has scored another victory in our Campaign for Economic Liberty, our multi-year effort to elevate economic liberty to national prominence like we did with the issues of school choice and eminent domain abuse.
In this lawsuit, we challenged a Connecticut state law that allows anyone to perform interior design services, but dictates that only those with government-issued licenses may call themselves “interior designers.” Besides unconstitutionally censoring truthful commercial speech, “titling laws” like Connecticut’s serve as precursors to full-blown occupational licensure (the ultimate goal of a small, well-funded faction within the interior design industry).
IJ’s strategic research has shown such regulations result in higher prices, less variety, and fewer employment opportunities, especially for minorities and older mid-career switchers, without any benefit to public health or safety (the standard by which all such regulations should be judged).
It is these types of occupational regulations that are the target of the Campaign for Economic Liberty and that we will litigate against to restore constitutional protection for the right to earn an honest living.
Below is our news release on yesterday’s court decision. Thank you for making this and all our work possible.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 30, 2009
Federal Judge Declares Connecticut Interior Design Law Unconstitutional
New Haven, Conn.—A federal judge today struck down a state law that unconstitutionally censored the free speech of interior designers in Connecticut.
In a thorough, clearly worded 23-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz systematically considered and rejected each of the state’s arguments in support of the challenged law, a so-called “title act” for interior designers. Title acts are laws that regulate only the speech, but not the work associated with a given occupation. Thus, in Connecticut—as in 46 other states around the country including New York, Massachusetts, and California—anyone may work as an interior with no license or other special government oversight of any kind. But since 1983, Connecticut law has prohibited anyone not registered as an interior designer with the Department of Consumer Protection from referring to himself as an “interior designer,” even when that term accurately describes what he does.
Interior design laws are the product of a decades-long lobbying effort by an elitist group of industry insiders seeking to limit competition by driving other interior designers out of work. That effort, led by the American Society of Interior Designers, is documented in an Institute for Justice study entitled “Designing Cartels.” Another study from IJ called “Designed to Exclude,” released in February 2009, shows that interior design regulations like Connecticut’s not only increase costs for consumers but also disproportionately exclude minorities and older career-switchers from the interior design industry. Both studies are available online: www.ij.org/interiordesign.
“Shortly after I began practicing interior design twenty-five years ago, a woman from the Department of Consumer Protection showed up at my business and ordered me to stop calling myself an interior designer,” said Susan Roberts, one of the three plaintiffs who successfully challenged Connecticut’s interior design law. “That is an outrageous act of censorship on the part of the state, and I am thrilled that I can now tell the world that I am what I have always been since I started doing this work—an interior designer.”
As Judge Kravitz explained in rejecting the state’s legal arguments, “the term ‘interior designer’ is not a term of art and it is not inherently misleading.” Moreover, “[i]f the State were seeking to convey the existence of a regulatory regime in this field, then a term such as ‘licensed interior designer,’ or ‘registered interior designer,’ would far better serve that interest.”
“When it was enacted in 1983, Connecticut’s interior design law represented the cutting edge of a concerted effort to cartelize the interior design industry for the benefit of ASID and its members,” said Clark Neily the Institute for Justice senior attorney who led the successful court challenge. “Along with several grassroots and industry groups, we have brought that campaign to a halt and are systematically dismantling the barriers it has erected to fair competition in the interior design field. We are confident that when the dust settles, consumers in every state will be able to choose the designer whom they think best suits their needs, and interior designers themselves will be free to go as far as their ambition, talent, and dreams will take them.”
Laws regulating the practice of interior design and restricting it to those who have met the pro-legislation cartel’s narrow standards are not in the best interests of the profession as a whole, and particularly not those of current or future students.
According to renowned kitchen design expert Dr. Phyllis Markussen, CKE, CBE, who is a professor of Family Studies and Interior Design at the University of Nebraska, interior design legislation could have a significantly negative effect on interior design students, because the one path route to practice that would result would “effectively ‘dumb down’ the educational programs by creating too-rigid guidelines”.
It is advantageous in academia to provide a “system-approached” education, bringing in a range of other disciplines to help provide students a “broader, more global perspective”. To restrict the practice of interior design to those who have graduated only from CIDA-accredited schools (which do not even include some of the most prestigious schools of design in the country, such as Parsons), would eliminate that opportunity by “…[narrowing] the approach with a single educational experience”.
In addition to homogenizing the educational offerings, specialization could be restricted as well, which could result in a shortage of designers to meet the needs in any given state. This is also because there simply won’t be enough qualified designers around to shepherd the students through the state-mandated process to being able to practice independently.
According to AICAD (Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design), “We need multiple pathways into creative fields due to their varied and dynamic natures… Society does not benefit by a narrowing of access to creative fields. ”
Far more schools are not CIDA-accredited than are, which would result in CIDA having a virtual monopoly on interior design education, with zero evidence that the CIDA schools have any better record of preparing students than any other programs. A situation such as this would not benefit anyone but those CIDA-approved, programs and the various organizations that support them.
The effects on other academic institutions are readily obvious – the net result would be discrimination against community colleges in particular, and their student bodies.
In addition, if there aren’t enough jobs for students when they graduate (and there already aren’t, particularly thanks to the present economy), then demand for these programs will decrease, which in turn will force a number of colleges and universities to restrict *all* of their offerings. Some programs will have to shut down altogether, leaving existing students high and dry, and effectively eliminating interior design as a career option at all for many who would have otherwise chosen this path.
Finally, and most importantly, students are being fed a line that they will not be able to practice what they are trained to do without design legislation, but a simply look at the present realities will show that to be untrue. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of interior designers are not licenced/registered/certified, even in states that do have some form of either practice or title act, and yet they are still working and still getting their projects built, the same as they always have.
As I wrote in my post “It Doesn’t Involve Me – Or Does It?”:
It is not illegal to practice interior design now in any state except the three in which the ASID-led cartel have managed to pass legislation that makes it illegal to do so without a license. They claim that the IBC makes it illegal, but it patently does not. What it does is leave the decision up to each jurisdiction, and most places and code officials have no desire to restrict the practice of interior design any more than it already is limited by architectural laws, or to regulate it. Read the code yourself – it’s on page 41. If what we do becomes illegal, it will only be because ASID and their cohorts will have made it that way.
Interior design legislation has been proven over and over again to be a solution in search of a problem. If passed, it will only create the very problem it claims it will prevent. In states that do not presently have any category of “registered design professional”, legislation will create that category – and then restrict the practice of design to those that hold those credentials, where it has never been restricted before.
Do not be misled into believing their scare tactics telling you that you won’t be able to practice what you’re learning now in school, because it’s simply not true. The only way that will happen is if they make it happen. And this is supposed to be protecting you?
Over and over again, this issue has been pointed out to the prolegislation cartel – and in front of legislators, who have been shown the actual code wording, as it’s been pointed out to the cartel people at the same time – and yet these people persist in repeating this blatant untruth, and particularly using it to frighten students into thinking they have no choice but to support legislation, when nothing is actually further from reality.
IDPC puts it most succinctly: “The IBC (Sec. 106.1) does NOT require that all construction documents be prepared by registered design professionals. What it actually says is the following: [C]onstruction documents shall be prepared by a registered design professional where required by the jurisdiction in which the project is to be constructed.” (emphasis added). The IBC defers completely to state law as to whether or not construction documents must be prepared by an architect or an engineer or may be prepared by anyone else including interior designers.”
And now, with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh scandal, we see again the lengths to which these people will go in order to accomplish their ends – faculty members of a design school coercing students into supporting the pro-legislation agenda whether they wanted to or not by giving an extra credit assignment that only offered credit to those who wrote to their legislators to support legislation, and no credit at all to those who wrote to oppose it.
Students, if legislation is brought into academia at all, you deserve an education that teaches you how to research all sides of the issue and make decisions like this for yourself. You deserve as much credit for your work in doing this and opposing legislation, if that is how you feel, if such an assignment is given, as any student who chooses to support it. For an instructor to coerce students into supporting his or her own political ends or risk their grade and academic standing is a violation of academic integrity and standards that is utterly shameful.
This is only one case that we know about. It’s anyone’s guess how many other instructors or schools might be doing the same thing, or something similar.
And you should be asking yourselves, is this what you want your tuition and tax dollars to be funding?
If you don’t already know how to research and evaluate both sides of an issue that is going to dramatically affect you and your future, then you deserve to be taught how to do so, not be railroaded into one point of view or the other like this. You do not deserve to be used as pawns.
It is just flat out unfair and unethical to put students in a position like this where they may have to choose between their own values and their academic standing, and if you are not outraged by this, you should be.
The battle over AIPs coercive assignment to lobby legislators in support of Pennsylvania HB 1521 heats up, fueled by public outrage and president George Pry and interior design department chair Kelly Spewock’s assertions that no coercion was used.
Both administrators continue to claim that students were given equal opportunity to oppose legislation and to earn equal credit for that, despite confirmations from several students who personally objected to the assignment, and the opposition movement’s receipt of a copy of the actual assignment, confirming the original allegations of instructor Laura Musulin’s clearly stated attempt to force students to support her own political agenda.
AIP claims the Institute has no official policy on the legislation, but they are clearly not ensuring that this policy is adhered to by the faculty, if it is indeed the case, and have not said they’ve done anything to correct the situation. Instead, they now state that they consider the matter closed.
This type of behavior is a serious compromise of academic integrity, regardless of the political position being promoted, and seriously calls into question whether or not such coercion may be being used with students in other disciplines, and in other institutions.
Clearly, AICAD (the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design), which is one of the most important national accrediting bodies for institutions of higher learning specializing in the arts agrees, as president Bill Barrett weighs in with his response to IDPC postings.
Could AIP lose its accreditation if they continue to show signs of supporting this kind of outrageous behavior? I would suggest that perhaps they should.