No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

Florida’s Interior Design Cartel Challenged in Federal Court – Press Release

INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE
901 N. Glebe Road Suite 900 Arlington, VA 22203 (703) 682-9320 FAX (703) 682-9321
Home Page: WWW.IJ.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 27, 2009

Florida’s Interior Design Cartel Challenged in Court
Federal Lawsuit Is Culmination of National Struggle
To Counter Industry Insiders’ Attempt to Wall Out Fair Competition

Tallahassee, Fla.—With the filing of a federal court challenge on Tuesday, Florida has become ground zero in a national struggle to prevent the monopolization of the interior design industry through anti-competitive occupational licensing laws. The struggle pits an elitist group of industry insiders seeking government protection from fair competition against independent entrepreneurs who simply wish to earn an honest living in the occupation of their choice without first meeting an expensive, time-consuming and utterly arbitrary series of government-mandated licensing requirements.

The Institute for Justice (IJ), the nation’s leading legal advocate for economic liberty, joined with three interior designers—Eva Locke, Pat Levenson and Barbara Gardner—and the National Federation of Independent Business to file the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee, challenging Florida’s interior design law. IJ has successfully vindicated the rights of interior designers across the country and this case promises to be the biggest fight yet in the battle against the interior design cartel.

“In the midst of a recession and with the economy in shambles, the last thing the government should be doing is putting up barriers to people who simply want to earn a living in the occupation of their choice,” said Clark Neily, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice. “People are free in nearly every other state besides Florida to hire the interior designer who best meets their needs. But the government has taken that decision away from people in Florida, and the result is higher prices for consumers and fewer employment opportunities for designers. The proper role of government is protecting people from genuine harm—not protecting elitist cartels from fair competition.”

Only three states in the entire country regulate the practice of interior design, and Florida’s law is by far the most restrictive and aggressively enforced. The practice of interior design is defined under Florida law as including any consultation, study or drawing that relates to the “nonstructural interior elements” of any commercial building. That includes furniture, fixtures, lighting, carpets, drapes—even the artwork on the walls of an office—and all of it is off limits to anyone who is not a state-licensed interior designer.

“Why does Florida regulate the practice of interior design when virtually no other state does?” continued Neily. “It certainly has nothing to do with protecting public health, safety or welfare. Study after study has shown that the unlicensed practice of interior design presents no genuine safety risks whatsoever. Instead of protecting the public, interior design licensing laws are all about protecting industry members from fair competition.”

The push to license interior designers has not come from the public or from consumer watchdog groups or other concerned citizens, but from an industry organization called the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Working with local groups like Florida’s Interior Design Associations Foundation (IDAF), ASID has spent the past three decades and millions of dollars lobbying all over the country for licensing laws limiting the practice of interior design to people who possess the same credentials necessary to become a professional member of ASID itself.

Florida represents the interior design cartel’s greatest achievement so far, with not only the most sweeping interior design law anywhere in the country, but also the resources of a private law firm in Tallahassee that receives over $500,000 annually from the state to investigate and prosecute potential violations of the law. This has led to an enforcement campaign of unprecedented intensity, with hundreds of interior designers—including people legally performing residential interior design services, for which no license is required—being sent cease-and-desist letters every year.

Florida’s interior design law is riddled with constitutional defects, including improperly censoring truthful advertising and other forms of expression, violating people’s right to work in the occupation of their choice free from unreasonable government interference, and discriminating against interstate commerce by discouraging interior designers from other states from working in Florida.

IJ President and General Counsel Chip Mellor said, “This lawsuit is an important part of the Institute for Justice’s nationwide campaign to restore economic liberty to all Americans by defending their constitutional right to earn an honest living.”
For more information on the lawsuit, including video footage and national media coverage on the interior design cartel, visit www.ij.org/interiordesign

# # #

Christina Walsh
Director of Activism and Coalitions
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 682-9320
www.ij.org
www.castlecoalition.org

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May 28, 2009 - Posted by | ASID, Florida, Institute for Justice

1 Comment »

  1. “Why does Florida regulate the practice of interior design when virtually no other state does?” continued Neily. “It certainly has nothing to do with protecting public health, safety or welfare. Study after study has shown that the unlicensed practice of interior design presents no genuine safety risks whatsoever. Instead of protecting the public, interior design licensing laws are all about protecting industry members from fair competition.”

    Spin it however you like Clark…that is your job. However we both know that the crux of this whole debacle is about unqualified interior decorators claiming a birthright to the profession of interior design. Interior Decoration is not Interior Design- PERIOD. Kudos to you for your continued semantic evasion on that particular distinction.

    Unfortunately the interior design profession has done a poor job of defining it’s true value to society and legislating our supposed ability to protect the health safety and welfare of the public is not the best way to do that…as you have discovered. So on the government regulation point we agree. If your beef was purely against ID regulation I actually might be an ally. However as long as you and your decorator cronies continue to include the education, experience and examination model for professional development in your deprofessionalization effort I will continue to call you on your collective fallacious propoganda. I know that the IJ is very adept at looking facts straight in the eye (Caren Martin’s rebuttal) and spinning them into fiction…again that is your job and by Joe you are good at it. So instead of befuddling you with facts we intend to baffle you with logic and knowledge. This may take a while but mark my words when the legislative dust settles we will still be here to sort out the interior decorators from the interior designers.

    Comment by Mike Dudek | May 29, 2009 | Reply


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