No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

Report on Status of Deregulation Bill in Florida

Thanks to kitchendetails for posting the following report on the deregulation hearing in Florida last week and the status of the bill.  I don’t know who the actual reporter was, but it was clearly an eyewitness and participant.

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Here is an excerpt sent to me re: the status of the bill in Florida and how it went last week.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

Abraham Lincoln, (attributed) 16th president of US (1809 – 1865)

Report: Wednesday, April 1st, 5:00-6:00 PM Senate Office Building, Tallahassee
In the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries, Senator Dennis Jones, sponsor of SB842 presented the bill with one hour remaining in the session for discussion.

Allen Douglas (NFIB) was the first to be called. Allen gave an excellent overview, in support of the bill, focusing on the fact that safety has been shown to not be an issue. The opponents of the legislation had used the “health Safety and welfare” argument, against the bill, with success in the hearing last week in the House (HB1303) resulting in a close margin on the successful vote. He brought up the nine Sunrise/Sunset reports produced over recent years in other states which examined in detail the justification for licensing interior designers based on safety. No justification had been found. He pointed out from one Review that in the last 100 years only 52 law suits have been filed against Interior Designers and most were over contractual disputes. A final point was most effective when he quoted from the MMQB Article State of Fear by Rob Kirkbride “When asked if there were any cases on record of faulty furniture installation keeping someone from getting out of an office in an emergency, Minacci said no”. (David Minacci is the Prosecutor for the State)

Other testimony in favor of the bill came from a recent graduate of the School of Interior Design at FSU, myself, and three supporters from the Restaurant Eq. market.

Opposition packed the house with students and faculty from the design school(s). Many of them spoke at length, running the clock out and forcing the sponsor to postpone vote for 2 weeks.

Remarkably a graduate designer working for a contract dealer spoke in favor of the bill. She noted the lack of jobs working for licensed designers. [A two year apprenticeship is required of a four year degreed person in order to become qualified to take the NCIDQ Test]. She stated that she could not find a job working for a designer and therefore is working as a salesperson for a dealership. She said that many of her classmates were unable to find jobs in their field and (some) were even working for Starbucks. Just as remarkably, a professor from FSU spoke after her, and most arrogantly, said that he had all the facts and that she was wrong. He gave no facts only a look of distain when leaving the podium.

Jerry Pierce, Restaurant Equipment World, who is fighting a charge of practicing Architecture without a license made a powerful presentation which in retrospect stole the show. Jerry is an international expert in designing commercial kitchens. He showed a plan of a kitchen used to prepare students to take the NCIDQ Test. The study guide plan omitted a hand washing sink which is mandatory for all commercial kitchens. The argument was further made by Jim Hanson, FEDA, that interior designers have no training in or understanding of commercial kitchens.

One Senator on the Committee pointed out that he had helped pass the 1994 amendment creating the Interior Design Practice Act (FS481.203). He naturally defended the statute.

The leader of the opposition to SB 842, began with the statement ‘We know nothing about commercial kitchen design.’ This seemed to be intended to distance herself from the commercial kitchen industry and the prosecution of Jerry Pierce. Several references were made to the need to protect the public. The most memorable comment was that: ‘Events outside FL should have no affect on the situation here due to our salt air causing corrosion’. She noted that her organization has spent a lot of money having the Petition for Declarative Statement published that states clearly that anyone can sell and produce furniture plans for “loose furniture,” But not spatial dividers (office cubicles).

The lobbyist in opposition to SB842 made a presentation that suggested the state was inundated with defective interior design before the Title and Practice Acts. That the current problem is with the prosecutors, not the law. He suggests that prosecution be brought back to the Board of Architecture & Interior Design (BOAID) with a state paid lawyer handling the enforcement. What he failed to mention is that if the law is not changed to protect the “sellers” then the state BOAID may well hire a new lawyer who will be even more successful in prosecuting the law than the current prosecutor. The problem is the law.

The hearing format, unlike a trial, does not allow for rebutting or cross examination of those giving testimony. The supporters of licensing are pleased that FL has had this law since 1994. It would have been nice to have pointed out that a lot has happened since FS 481.203 was enacted. Knowing then what is known today, it is not likely this law would have ever been put on the books. Since enactment in 1994, the internet, for example, has made it possible to stay on top of legislation, to research the facts and to communicate the truth. The development of computer programs that make it possible for anyone to produce professional furniture layouts (illegal “space plans”) has made countless sales professionals criminals. And probably most important over these 15 years states have established Sunrise and Sunset laws. CO has twice published reports when legislation was presented to license designers. In both reports no justification was found. Eight other states, over the years, either blocked the passage of such laws or recommended the sunset of interior design licensing. Governors of NY (2x), IN, CO vetoed legislation to establish licensing. The Interior Design Practice Act in LA was challenged in court and ultimately found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2007. This left only FL, LA, NV, DC and PR with Practice Acts and only FL actually enforcing the law. And most recently the prime mover for licensing nationally, ASID, has published new policy in which it will no longer fund efforts to establish Practice Acts and that any Title Acts must have the wording: “Licensed Interior Designer” or “Certified Interior Designer” and not the “Interior Designer” Title which has been challenged in court successfully on First Amendment Rights.

The bill has been scheduled for additional testimonials at the next Committee meeting in two weeks.

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April 7, 2009 - Posted by | Florida

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