Interior Design Protection Consulting

September 15, 2011

IJ Files Petition in U.S. Supreme Court re Florida Interior Design Legal Challenge

It’s not over until. . . well, you know.

Today the Institute for Justice has filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court to appeal the decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and attempt to overturn Florida’s unconstitutional interior design law.  This is an important case in the defense of free speech.

“Virtually everything an interior designer does—from consulting with clients about their personal tastes, to making design drawings, to giving advice—is just speech,” said IJ Senior Attorney Clark Neily in today’s press release.  “The First Amendment prohibits the government from requiring aspiring interior designers to get a license before they can offer harmless advice to their customers.”

“IDPC attorney, Robert Kry, will be filing another amicus brief on behalf of the Interior Design Protection Council in support of the Institute for Justice petition,” said Patti Morrow, director of IDPC.  “Florida’s anti-competitive, unnecessary interior design law cannot stand.  We will do everything possible to support IJ’s efforts to re-establish freedom to design in Florida.”

May 6, 2011

Florida Cartel…are ya dead yet?

Amended Bill Belies ASID's Claims

As we have been saying all along, if deregulated, everyone in the design community would be able to (1) offer commercial interior design services and (2) submit documents for pulling permits which do not impact structure or lifesafety.

ASID and their puppet coalition, IDAF, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and mobilized their large grassroots to try to counter the fact that deregulation will open new job opportunities in Florida and end the monopoly.

We’re right.  They’re wrong.  Period.

Take a look at the amended version of HB 5005, as agreed to at conference last Saturday.  The bill (amendment language submitted by the NKBA approx. a month ago) now includes definitions of interior design and outlines what is legal to perform.  Anyone who can read and comprehend English can see that deregulation will NOT prevent those currently licensed from doing commercial work or from submitting plans (albeit without a seal) for permitting.  This is in agreement with the Florida Building Code which states that an architect is only needed if the lifesafety is impacted — even those currently licensed cannot do that type of work now.

The amended bill takes a last whack at ASID’s blatant and deliberate effort to hoodwink legislators.  Their argument has no life.

However. . . .

Due to some really bizarre in-house politics in Tallahassee right now, we have no idea how this will be voted on later today.

Stay tuned. . .

April 30, 2011

Interior Design DE-regulation Stays IN Florida Budget!

shocked!We’re IN!!!   

Are you sitting down?  You might want to…

After meeting last night at 10:15, this morning at 10:00 and this afternoon at 2:00, the negotiations between Sen. Alexander and Rep. Grimsley are over.  They have reached a budget agreement and (drum roll, please)….

INTERIOR DESIGN REMAINS IN
TO BE DEREGULATED!!!

The budget bill now has a 72 hour “cooling off” period, then will be on legislators’ desks next Tuesday, for a final vote on Friday (last day of session) to confirm the budget which has now been informally agreed to by both Senate and House.

The Cartel will no doubt do everything they can to make a desperate, final attempt to get interior designers removed and save their monopoly stranglehold, but that’s highly unlikely at this juncture, as the budget should be a straight up-or-down vote, and all the “horse trading” has already been done. Still, you just never know what can happen in the legislature, so put that champagne on ice, but don’t crack it open just yet.  We’ll give you the thumbs up when all hurdles have been passed.

For all intents and purposes, it sure does look like the Good Guys have won!  Thanks for being part of our team effort — IDPC has been working on getting rid of this law since 2008, and if you have not already done so, this would be an ideal time to support our work.

I think I’m going to take the rest of the weekend off.

April 29, 2011

ASID. . . or SNL? Press conference bombs!

“It was like a Saturday Night Live skit.”

That was typical of the many comments we received regarding ASID’s flop-of-a-press-conference held in Tallahassee yesterday.  Here is a summary of the debacle.

Almost no one came out to hear what the Cartel had to say…

  • no designers other than their own cronies
  • few if any legislators
  • no mainstream news media or blogs
  • and only two local reporters, whose media decided not to run anything

In fact, the people in the conference area never even bothered to stop talking – there was so much ambient noise, one could barely hear what was being said.

Well, that would have been a blessing in disguise for the Cartel if not for the streaming video. . .

Don Davis, ASID’s national lobbyist, led the cache of Cartel speakers looking very ill at ease – probably because the audience just kept talking right over him.  In his comments, he emphasized the same falsehoods that were publicized by ASID earlier in the week.

The first was the claim that interior design regulation regulation in Florida is voluntary and that anyone who would like to do interior design may do so.  This is not true; Florida is one of only three states that have enacted a state-mandated regulatory scheme which prohibits unlicensed individuals from practicing commercial interior design.  Mr. Davis’ deliberately misleading statement and additional ASID mistruths have been thoroughly, factually, and empirically debunked in detail here.

My colleague, Clark Neily says, “If Florida’s law is indeed voluntary, that will come as a huge surprise to IJ client Barbara Gardner and hundreds of others like her who received this letter from the BOAID’s prosecuting attorney, David Minacci, advising that it is illegal to offer “interior design” and “commercial design” services in Florida and demanding that they sign an affidavit in which they agree to “refrain from offering interior design and commercial design services” without a license and swear under oath that “interior design and commercial design services have not been provided . . . without proper licensure.”  I further assume that Mr. Minacci and members of the BOAID will be investigated for their criminal conduct in making those misrepresentations to hundreds of people and businesses under color of law.

I further assume the BOAID will retract these false and misleading press releases regarding its apparently illegal enforcement action against Kelly Wearstler for ‘practic[ing] interior design in Florida without a license.’”

Mr. Davis went on to proclaim that if deregulation occurs, no one but architects would be able to practice interior design in a commercial setting or be able to pull permits for their projects.  ASID continues to perpetrate this scare tactic even after it has been totally discredited here and here.

Mr. Davis’ claim that deregulation would create a monopoly for architects is absurd.
No clear-thinking legislator is going to be hoodwinked by ASID’s bait-and-switch tactics which falsely and unsuccessfully try to portray the Cartel as the victims in a monopoly scheme.  To the contrary, what Florida has now is a state-sanctioned monopoly under which a mere 2,560 state-licensed interior designers are allowed to work in commercial spaces.  Eliminating Florida’s interior design law will enable consumers to hire whomever they wish and require interior designers to compete on a level playing field in Florida the way they do in the 47 states that do not regulate interior design.  Talented interior designers are flourishing in those states, as they will when Florida’s blatantly anti-competitive interior design law is repealed.

Alison Levy, a spokesperson for IIDA, claimed that deregulation would cost Florida consumers $51 million and result in layoffs because registered interior designers would not be able to offer commercial interior design services; however, that number appears to have been made up as she supplied not single statistic, documentation, or any verification whatsoever to support the assertion.  More importantly, it’s just not true.  Everything registered interior designers are doing today, they will be able to do if deregulated.  They will be able to practice commercial design and they will be able to submit plans (albeit without a seal, which is not necessary for non-lifesafety work under the Florida Building Code Guidebook).  Deregulation would create, not destroy, jobs, so no layoffs would occur.  Whether or not the current licensed designers actually get/keep the commercial work once fair competition is allowed will depend solely on the merit of work produced, as in the 47 non-regulated states.

Ms. Levy claimed that Florida is currently not a regulated state.  This is a serious misrepresentation of Statues 481which could have the chilling effect of leading to unlicensed practice resulting in additional disciplinary actions (in addition to the 600+ individuals who were victims of the “witch hunt”) at the hands of the BOAID’s ruthless prosecution firm.

Walter Dartland, a former employee in the Attorney General’s office was (unintentionally) hilarious!  He talked in general about consumer issues (which of course, interior design is not).  He indicated that interior designers are the functional equivalent of lawyers and should be regulated accordingly. Hmmm.  I guess he didn’t hear Don Davis’ statement that they’re not regulated…  He also railed against deregulation of movers and auto repair shops as the top recipient of consumer complaints.  That’s it.  Did ASID forget to tell Mr. Dartland the press conference was supposed to be about interior design?

Representative Van Zandt was undoubtedly the highlight of the press conference, and did the most to damage the credibility of the Cartel’s agenda to remove interior designers from the deregulation bill.

  • He went on and on about how the current regulated interior designers protect public safety, but gave no proof whatsoever – that’s because there is none, as proved here and here.
  • He mistakenly used the term interior “decorator” instead of “designer”
  • He stated there are 883 regulated firms with 11,000 employees, affecting another 46,000 jobs for a total loss of 60,000 jobs if deregulated.  Again, no proof was offered.  The truth is that those 60,000 jobs would still be viable, and in addition, hundreds of thousands more would be created by deregulation!

But by far the best of the best of Rep. Van Zandt’s belabored speech was his repeating again and again and again that registered interior designers are trained to provide interior architecture.  In fact, at one point, he said something to the effect of “if deregulated, anyone would be able to design interior architecture.”

Seriously?  As an architect of 40 years, Representative Van Zandt should know, that’s illegal in Florida!  Statutes 481.223(1)(a) says “A person may not knowingly practice architecture unless the person is an architect or a registered architect.”

With no clear coordinated talking points, and each bumbling speaker contradicting the other, as amusing as it was for the Freedom Movement, the press conference had to be excruciatingly painful for the Cartel to watch.

How could it not?

April 28, 2011

IJ Rebuts ASID Falsehoods

INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE

On Tuesday, April 26, it was reported that the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Designers Association (IIDA) sent a joint letter to President Haridopolos and Speaker Cannon regarding the proposal to repealFlorida’s interior design law. The letter is largely fictitious and, as usual, provides no supporting data or references. 

We believe that important policy decisions should not be made on the basis of unsubstantiated assertions or outright falsehoods. Accordingly, the Institute for Justice offers this response to the ASID/IIDA letter, complete with supporting data from which readers may draw their own conclusions.  (A copy of this statement, with hyperlinks, is available at www.ij.org/ijresp_ASID_April26letter.)

ASID/IIDA Claim: “Currently interior designers are not required to be licensed by the state and are part of an already unregulated profession.” 

Response:  This claim is demonstrably false and contradicts ASID’s own statements in federal court. 

  • Florida Statute § 481.223(1)(a) states that a person may not “[p]ractice interior design unless the person is a registered interior designer . . . .”  Violation of that provision is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison.
  • The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website has a page that asks “What services require a state of Florida license?  Interior Designers.” It goes on to explain that “If you are going to hire someone to design the interior of a commercial structure he/she needs to be licensed.
  • In a brief submitted to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010, ASID described the issue as whether “Florida’s ban on the unlicensed practice of non-residential interior design” violates the U.S. Constitution and concluded by arguing that “Florida has a legitimate constitutional right to mandate that only a licensed interior designer . . . be permitted to practice interior design.”
  • The Board of Architecture and Interior Design has pursued disciplinary actions against more than 600 people and businesses for providing or offering to provide “interior and commercial design services” without a license and advises people that “only persons or firms licensed by the State of Florida may engage in the . . . activities” of “offering interior and commercial design services.”

ASID/IIDA Claim: “Deregulation will eliminate commercial interior designers and create a monopoly for design services.”  “ [R]egistered designers . . . will no longer be allowed to sign and seal construction documents.”

Response: This claim is grossly misleading because it fails to provide necessary context.

  • Under current Florida law, interior designers are not authorized to sign and seal construction documents that affect structural, mechanical, ingress/egress, or other “lifesafety” systems.  Construction documents that do not affect lifesafety systems do not have to be sealed by an architect, engineer, or other building professional and may be submitted by non-licensed persons at the discretion of local building officials.
  • Notably absent is any context or support for the tacit assertion that the livelihoods of commercial designers depend significantly on their ability to stamp and seal construction documents.  In reality, interior designers are rarely called upon to sign and seal construction documents for permitting purposes on commercial projects.
  • Any concerns about the ability of interior designers to sign and seal construction documents can easily be addressed by other means than occupational licensure.  Such language has been provided to the Legislature and could easily be implemented with support from ASID and IIDA, which they have so far withheld, presumably because their true concern is not signing and sealing construction documents but maintaining their government-backed monopoly on commercial design services inFlorida.

ASID/IIDA Claim: “Deregulation will cost Florida businesses tens of millions of dollars in increased costs to the consumer and lost revenues to the state” and “Florida businesses will suffer by paying an additional $50 million per year due to the elimination of competition for interior design.”

Response: These figures appear to be entirely made up. 

  • In contrast, a study performed by economists at KenyonCollegecalled Designed to Exclude concluded that interior design regulations drive up prices, limit choices for consumers and disproportionately exclude minorities and older, mid-career switchers from the interior design field.
  •  The number of state-licensed interior designers inFloridahas been steadily diminishing; the current figure provided by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is 2,560 active registrations out of more than 5,800 that have been issued since 1994.  The Department reports that approximately 60% of those 2,560 interior designers were grandfathered-in and do not possess the requisite statutory credentials for licensing.
  • Eliminating unnecessary statutory prerequisites for practicing interior design—prerequisites that most state-licensed interior designers do not even possess themselves—will expand opportunities and enable all interior designers to compete on a level playing field, just as they do in the 47 states that do not license the practice of interior design.

Conclusion

The letter submitted by ASID and IIDA to President Haridopolis and Speaker Cannon contains demonstrable falsehoods and unsupported assertions. We hope and expect that these groups will be asked to explain their misrepresentations and document their assertions and that their credibility will be judged according to the response they give—or fail to give.

April 26, 2011

Unlicensed designers ARE insurable..even in Florida!

Another nail in the Florida Cartel’s coffin!

As you know, one of the FL cartel’s many scare tactics has been their assertion that only licensed designers are insurable.  Well, this too has been disproved – see letter from Suncoast Insurance.

Other FL cartel myths that have been disproved:

  • Interior design licensure protects the public.   Disproved here and here.
  • Only architects will be able to practice commercial design.  Disproved here and here.
  • Deregulation will cause the current licensed designers to lose work.  Truth — only if their work is inferior (here).
  • The current law in Florida is a voluntary licensing program – no one is forced to become licensed. Disproved here.
  • Regulation creates jobs (no — it restricts competition; deregulation opens new job opportunities).
  • 26 states believe the safety their residents requires that interior designers be regulated.  Disproved by Institute for Justice here.
  • Regulation offers consumers more choices (wrong… the Federal Trade Commission concluded that regulation raises consumer costs and provides fewer choices.
  • Colleges will close if deregulation occurs (47 other states with some of the finest interior design colleges in the country haven’t closed — in fact, enrollment has been up in recent years)
  • Students degrees will be worthless (students attend college for an education, not for licensure; among other benefits, their degree provides them with a leg-up on competition right from the start)
  • Students will not be able to pay off their school loans (right now, they can only work for the 2,500 licensed interior designers; if deregulated, they will be able to work for many thousands of other designers or start their own business. The result is more opportunities for employment/entrepreneurship will facilitate paying off school loans faster).

As long as ASID/IDAF continue to make their blatantly false statements, IDPC will be right there to hammer out the TRUTH!

Please support our crusade to pound out anti-competitive interior design regulations!

April 21, 2011

BAM! 22 organizations unite to repeal FL interior design law!

YES WE CAN!

22 major organizations have formed a coalition to support deregulation on behalf of well over 100,000 Floridians who would benefit from a repeal of Florida’s interior design practice act.

Click here for Coalition Letter sent to Senate President Haridopolos.

BAM!

April 20, 2011

Fox Business on Florida interior design deregulation

Liberty vs License 

Florida is ground zero for dergulation of anti-competitive interior design licensing.  “This law has got to go,” says Clark Neily, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. 

If you missed this segment on Fox Business last night, you can view the clip here:  http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/freedom-watch/index.html#/v/4654146/license-to-decorate/?playlist_id=157991

April 19, 2011

Neily on Fox Business TONIGHT

Neily on Fox! 

Clark Neily, Senior Attorney at the Institute for Justice and member of IDPC Board of Directors will be a featured guest on Judge Napolitano’s program Freedom Watch, speaking out on the battle over interior design in Florida. IDPC has been working with Clark and our friends at IJ on regaining Florida designers’ rights for several years.  We are Clark/Pattijust delighted at this new opportunity and Fox could not have chosen a better person to expose the misinformation that the Cartel has perpetrated on the public.  GO CLARK! 

I simply cannot wait to watch this program and hope you will join me!

Be sure to tune into Fox Business Channel tonight at 8pm or 11pm-and let your colleagues know!

 

Executive Director

NEW Tea Party Review article on Florida interior design DE-regulation

An April 18th Tea Party Review magazine article came out in support of the popular opinion that the interior design deregulation issue is a litmus test for genuine commitment to limited government and economic opportunity versus special-interest politics as usual.

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