Interior Design Protection Consulting

April 26, 2013

SC Interior Design Practice Act Tabled!

celebrate1Practice Act Not Well-Received

The hearing on HB 3417 licensure practice act was held Thursday, April 25th before the SC House Labor, Commerce & Industry Subcommittee.

Our opposition were outnumbered a bit by the cartel, but that didn’t matter whatsoever because (1) our grassroots letter writing campaigns were very effective, and (2) our testimonies against licensure were strong, factual and well-delivered.

Among those testifying to protect the rights of the interior design community were:

Ed Nagorsky representing the National Kitchen & Bath Assoc. (NKBA)

Adrienne Montare representing the American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Patti Morrow/IDPC representing

  • Designer Society of America (DSA)
  • Decorating Den Interiors (DDI)
  • Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA)
  • Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI)
  • Manufacturers Agents’ Assoc. of the Foodservice Industry (MAFSI)
  • No. American Assoc. of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM)

As usual, the proponents’ arguments were feeble and filled with unsubstantiated rhetoric and misinformation.  The Committee obviously recognized this and treated them at times with disdain, from aggressively questioning them for statistical data to back up their claims, to joking in a way very mocking to them.

The Committee ultimately voted to “adjourn debate.”  While technically the Committee does have the ability to discuss the legislation later in private, we policy wonks know that this is the “politically correct” way they kill a bill, by letting it languish in Committee.  In fact, the last thing said was admonishing from a Committee member to the proponents that the bill could be brought back next year if  “the sides get together” and agree.

Yeah.  Like THAT’S going to happen.  IDPC et al/NKBA/AIA all vehemently oppose regulating the industry.

So at least for now, I am confident that the cartel’s effort to impose anti-competitive licensing in South Carolina will not reach fruition.

And yet…. the ASID Carolinas and SCIDC sent out a joint newsflash claiming “a win,”  which has sent those of us who attended the hearing howling with laughter.  Seriously folks,  I could not make this up.  They are either delusional or unable to grasp the political system.  I know not which.

If this is a “win,” I hope that the design cartel has many more “wins” like this in the future.

Patti Morrow signature

January 29, 2013

2013 Interior Design Legislative Outlook

Another year over.  Another year of success kicking the Interior Design Cartel’s butt.

21 bills and other efforts to expand or increase interior design regulations crossed my desk in 2012.  Once again, no new title or practice laws were enacted.  The good guys are still winning.  The roadblocks to ASID’s monopoly are still working.

But like zombies, these bills will not stay dead.  It’s only January and nine bills have already been introduced.  It’s going to be another busy year, but if the not-too-bright cartel want to keep wasting their time and spending their money on high-priced lobbyists instead of using their time and money in a more wise manner — say, for educating the public and promoting their own members — then so be it.

I’m ready for them.  Our coalition of freedom fighters is intact and stand ready to fight the onslaught of anti-competitive regulation.

If you’d like to donate to help our efforts and protect your right to practice, you can do so on this page:  http://www.idpcinfo.org/Sponsorship.html

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 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

AIA [finally] Weighs in on Florida Interior Design DEregulation

AIA Letter to Florida Senators

On Thursday, April 14th, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) hand-delivered a letter to all members of the Florida Senate outlining their position on deregulation of Florida’s interior design law.

In his letter, CEO Robert Ivy asserts that the statements being made by ASID/IDAF which expressly state that if deregulated, only architects will be able to practice commercial interior design, are not true, and that passage of the deregulation bill will result in “little to no impact” on how Florida architects conduct business.

Mr. Ivy also affirms to the legislature, “We applaud you for the proposed elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy.” 

IDPC has publicly and in numerous private lobbying sessions with key members of the House and Senate, corrected the false statements made by ASID/IDAF by providing factual, statistical and empirical evidence that deregulation (1) will create more job opportunities, and (2) will still allow licensed interior designers the ability to submit plans that do not impact lifesafety, as they do today.

We agree with and congratulate AIA on their public position on interior design deregulation.

April 15, 2011

Florida dergulation front page of the Wall Street Journal!

The Fight for Interior Design Freedom is Ground Zero in Florida  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703551304576260742209315376.html?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines

Incredible PR spotlighting the intense battle that has been going on in Tallahassee for the last month.

Campo-Flores writes about the scenarios the Cartel has “conjured:”

  • flammable carpets
  • sparking infernos
  • bacterial fabrics that will contributing to the (baseless) assertion that 88,000 deaths will occur if deregulated
  • and our all-time favorite — the totally absurd implication that without licensing, jail furnishings would be turned into weapons.

Of course, no genuine evidence or facts were given to back up any of these so-called safety issues.  That’s because none exists.

Licensed designer Michelle Earley is quoted as saying, “it only takes a couple things [sic] to go wrong for people to lose their lives.”  Same old tired scare tactics.  Ms. Earley is certainly entitled to her own opinion, but not her own set of facts.

There is not a shred of evidence that the 47 other states that do not regulate interior design have been responsible for a single interior design-related death.  In fact, 12 government agencies have concluded just the opposite:  http://www.idpcinfo.org/GovReports.html

As ususal, the Cartel cites disasters like the 1980 MGM fire as examples of “faulty interior design.”  Not mentioned in the article are the facts that the incident had nothing to do with unqualified interior designer work is completely belied by a 2005 article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, which makes clear that the primary reason why the fire spread was a combination of

(a) inadequate sprinklers;

 (b) rampant code violations; and

(c) the defective flammable adhesive used to attach ceiling tiles.

Most of the victims died of smoke inhalation, but there has been no evidence presented that the quantity or lethality of the smoke was in any way enhanced by improper decorating or design choices.   http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/Press%20Room/LasVegasMGMGrand.pdf

The article ends with a quote from interior designer Nancy Stehle which really says it all:  “If you’re good at what you do, you never have to be concerned.”

Why not let Florida consumers decide who they want to hire to design their commercial spaces, exactly as it’s done in 47 other states, and without any harm to the public?

Bottom line, deregulation creates more jobs, and will not require that all commercial work be done under the supervision of an architect.

Patti Morrow, Director

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