No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

Help for Victims of Florida’s Witch Hunt

Help for victims of Florida’s WITCH HUNT!

Interior Design Protection Council
Legal assistance!

Over the last year, many designers who live or provide services in Florida have contacted me for a legal recommendation to understand and defend against the Board of Architecture and Interior Design (BOAID) disciplinary actions (a.k.a. “the witch hunt”).  Regrettably, I did not personally know of an attorney who had expertise in regulatory proceedings and was unable to give a referral.

Well, I am delighted to tell you that is no longer the case!  I have been contact by a Florida attorney with many years of extensive experience in interior design regulatory laws and procedure.  She knows Statute 481 and the DBPR inside and out.

And she wants to help! She does not agree with the BOAID’s very broad interpretation of the statute.  She is offering representation to persons targeted by the BOAID on a cost-only basis and instead will seek legal fees via statute from BOAID (which really should be held liable for paying fees for defense of their unfair “enforcement” activities).

As you may be aware, most people accused of unlicensed interior design activity either resolve it by attending the “probable cause” hearings and signing an affidavit admitting guilt and accepting cease-and-desist orders, or they hold out until after an administrative complaint is filed and then settle, paying a fine of something less than the $5000 threatened by the Board, even though they do not agree than they have violated any laws.

We believe more harm than good may come from the accused attending these probable cause proceedings without expert, experienced legal representation.  First, the cease-and-desist orders that the board routinely issues in lieu of a finding of probable cause are not subject to dispute at a hearing through the Florida Administrative Procedures Act (see section 455.228, F.S.) and future “violation” of a C&D can lead to a heavier second penalty.  Although the designers who do not appear will most likely be issued an administrative complaint, the complaint certainly can be challenged. The BOAID would have to prove their accusations at an administrative hearing through clear and convincing evidence.   How many victims of this witch hunt “knowingly” violated the statute?  The BOAID ignores that crucial element.

Moreover, if an “improvident finding of probable cause” is found in response to the complaint, it is possible that the defendant could require that the agency/board pay attorneys fees and costs (see section 57.111, F.S.).   Interestingly, if you perform a search on the Division of Administrative Hearings website (www.doah.state.fl.us) which is where disputed complaints would be adjudicated, you will see that the BOAID has not actually gone to hearing on an administrative complaint against a designer since the 1990s, and then the cases involved only disputed licensure denials.  Instead, the board routinely “helps” people into compliance with some pretty stiff fines and costs. Or they “help” them become compliant by telling them they can avoid a fine if they just sign an affidavit admitting guilt and promising not to do it again.  What they don’t tell them is that the admission of guilt becomes public domain, and any client or potential client using an internet search engine (like Google) will see their Florida record for years, perhaps a lifetime.  This result of the witch hunt is just one more way that the Florida cartel places “unlicensed” designers at an unfair competitive disadvantage.

Since there are not many attorneys willing to actually challenge them, the BOAID makes a ton of money this way.  Most lawyers without administrative agency experience are not familiar with regulatory law or procedures, so even when respondents have legal representation, some of the professional boards are able to get away with very iffy procedural practices.

This intimidation must STOP NOW!
If you or someone you know has been issued a cease and desist, please tell them to contact me at pmorrow@IDPCinfo.org and attach a copy of the cease and desist order, and I will be happy to answer any questions and put them in touch with this attorney.

IDPC is pleased to be involved in putting yet one more nail in IDAF’s coffin.  Click here to read how we’ve helped the Florida design community over the last year.

Please show your support for IDPC’s work by becoming a member or by making a donation of your choice.

Best regards,

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Patti Morrow
Executive Director
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July 1, 2009 Posted by | Florida | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CT Law Ruled Unconstitutional!

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.

Chip

________________________

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.”

This message was sent from Chip Mellor to. It was sent from: Institute for Justice, Institute for Justice 901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900, Arlington, VA 22203. You can modify/update your subscription via the link below.

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July 1, 2009 Posted by | California, Connecticut, Institute for Justice, Massachusetts, New York | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment