Interior Design Protection Consulting

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.

January 6, 2010

IDPC: “All agree, FL interior design law does NOT protect the public.”

Does Florida’s interior design practice act protect the public?

Under oath, advocates say “no”!

When questioned under oath, not a single proponent of the Florida licensing law was able to cite any benefits to consumers from licensing interior designers or harm that had occurred to the public in the 47 states that do not license interior designers:

  • When asked under oath if she had any information, or some empirical or quantifiable way that the Florida licensing law protects the public health, safety or welfare, Lisa Waxman Ph.D., Interior Design Faculty at Florida State University, BOAID expert witness, was unable to provide any substantiation for the law.[1]
  • When asked whether the quantifiable costs of Florida’s interior design law exceed the quantifiable benefits, Professor Waxman was not able to provide any data to support of the law.[2]
  • When asked if she had any factual evidence that at least one state that regulates interior designers did it not by enlisting a legislator to “ram it through” but on the basis of an actual study concluding that regulation was needed, Professor Waxman’s answer was, “no.”[3] (Note: 12 states have studied whether interior design profession needs to be regulated, and all concluded that regulation would add absolutely nothing to protect the public beyond measures already in place.[4])
  • In her November 24, 2009 deposition, When asked under oath[5] whether she was aware of any evidence that Florida licensing requirements have in fact (not could, which is an important distinction) benefited the public with respect to health, safety or welfare, Joyce Shore, Chair of the Board of Architecture and Interior Design, State of Florida’s representative to the NCIDQ, past president of IDAF, past president of ASID Florida South, licensed designer (grandfathered), answer was the same as given in the Board’s sworn answers to written interrogatories, i.e. “the Board has no specific information.”[6]
  • When asked under oath if he was aware of any evidence that the licensing of interior designers in Florida has benefited the public in any documentable way, Emery Johnson, self-proclaimed author of the current practice act and former BOAID enforcement expert, testified that he could not give any written evidence[7] (nor did he offer any verbal evidence).

And perhaps even more importantly, the Board of Architecture and Interior Design responded to IJ’s Written Discovery that they are unaware of any bona fide public welfare concerns.[8]


[1] Deposition of Lisa Kinch Waxman, Ph.D. taken by Counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs, in Tallahassee , Florida, November 12, 2009 http://www.idpcinfo.org/Deposition-Waxman.pdf

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] Government Reports, IDPC website, http://www.idpcinfo.org/Govt-Reports.html

[5] Deposition of Joyce Shore taken by Counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs, in Dania, Florida, November 24, 2009 http://www.idpcinfo.org/Deposition_Shore.pdf

[6] Answer no. 7, Defendants’ Responses to Plaintiffs’ First Set of Interrogatories (Served: 8/14/09; Unsworn Resp. Rec’d 9/17/09) Verified Resp. Rec’d 10/6/09) http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/economic_liberty/fl_interior_design/additional_docs/exhibit-5.pdf

[7] Deposition of J. Emory Johnson taken by Counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs in Glynn County, November 23, 2009 http://www.idpcinfo.org/Deposition_Johnson.pdf

[8]http://ij.org/images/pdf_folder/economic_liberty/fl_interior_design/additional_docs/exhibit-5.pdf

IDAF employs scare tactics to defend bogus interior design licensing law

Attention Florida interior design students!

Have you been bombarded with increasingly urgent requests to participate in the “Yes I Am” lobby day on January 12th in order to “protect your profession?”  Please be advised that the shrill, desperate messages you may have received from the Interior Design Associations Foundation (IDAF), some professors from the Florida State University (FSU) and/or faculty of your own college, are nothing more than a SCARE TACTIC – an underhanded scheme to manipulate and intimidate interior design students who are not familiar with Florida law.

The “prepared script” which will be given to you on the bus trip to Tallahassee will consist of nothing more than unsubstantiated rhetoric.  By contrast, legislators will be receiving factual information from IDPC and others that will directly contradict the IDAF scripts, and it is likely that you will be asked some very blunt questions by legislators that you will be unable to answer if all you have to go on are the baseless assertions and misrepresentations that have become IDAF’s trademark.  As a result, anyone who takes IDAF’s script at face value, without doing their own homework, is going to look very foolish when they run into legislators who have taken the time to actually study the issue.

  • YOU SHOULD KNOW… that contrary to IDAF’s blatant misrepresentations, if Florida’s interior design law is struck down in court, it will NOT be illegal for you to provide commercial interior design services, nor will it be necessary for you to work under an architect in order to provide those services.

Here is what IDAF is telling people on its website:

“If we [students] want to do commercial work, we will have to work under an architect.”

“Without the interior design practice act, the laws clearly indicate that commercial interiors can only be completed by licensed architects and projects that currently allow some 2,300 interior designers interior designers to sign and seal drawings for building permits (as permitted by the state) will be lost forever. Should the interior design practice act be removed from the books, due to a suit by the Institute for Justice and those by associated with their cause, you will immediately loose [sic] business opportunities, right to practice your chosen profession.”

Those statements are TOTALLY FALSE.  There is NO law in effect in Florida that would prohibit interior designers from working on commercial interior design projects or require them to work under an architect if the existing practice act is struck down.  Period.  And unlike IDAF, we can prove it:

  1. Emery Johnson, self-proclaimed author of the current practice act and former BOAID enforcement expert, testified under oath that he did not know of any current law that would require commercial interior designers to work under architects if the interior design law were to be struck down.[1]
  2. Joyce Shore, who is not only the current Chair of the Board of Architecture and Interior Design, but also the state of Florida’s representative to the NCIDQ, past president of IDAF, and past president of ASID Florida South, also testified that there is no law on the books prohibiting people from providing commercial interior services except unless under an architect. (Note: Ms. Shore also admitted that given the credentials she possesses right now, she would not be eligible for licensure in Florida as an interior designer today.) [2]

To see a full rebuttal to all the numerous untruthful statements listed on the IDAF website, click here: http://www.idpcinfo.org/IDAF_Website_Inaccuracies.pdf

  • YOU SHOULD KNOW… that the Interior Design Protection Council is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization founded for one – and only one – purpose:

             To protect the rights and livelihoods of all interior designers.

That is our sole mission.  For more information about IDPC: www.IDPCinfo.org

  • YOU SHOULD KNOW… FSU professors disseminated FALSE information to students and educators about the Interior Design Protection Council.  Subsequent to IDPC’s request for retraction, they admitted that much of their information was incorrect, but failed to share that fact with all of the students who had originally received it (or were forwarded it), as they should have if they were genuinely committed to a free and open debate, as they claim.

Click here to read IDPC’s request for action: https://idpcinfo.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/patti-morrow-idpc-requests-retraction-from-fsu-professors/

Click here to read IDPC’s correction of FSU’s additional misinformation and request that they send their retraction to students: https://idpcinfo.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/fsu-retracts-disemmination-of-inaccurate-information-about-idpc/

  • YOU SHOULD KNOW… that as a direct result of IDPC’s providing factual information to the Department of Business and Professional Regulations about IDAF’s false and deliberately misleading website, the DBPR no longer recognizes IDAF as a public source of information and has removed the IDAF link from their Board of Architecture and Interior Design web page: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs060/1102107213116/archive/1102742843192.html

Thank you for taking a few minutes to read the information provided.  Whether or not you decide to support or oppose Florida’s licensing scheme, you should do so based on truth, facts and empirical evidence – certainly not on the false and deliberately misleading scare tactics of IDAF or the inappropriate and heavy-handed coercion of some interior design faculty.

 


[1] Deposition of J. Emory Johnson taken by Counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs in Glynn County, Florida, November 23, 2009 http://www.idpcinfo.org/Deposition_Johnson.pdf

[2] Deposition of Joyce Shore taken by Counsel on behalf of the Plaintiffs, in Dania, Florida, November 24, 2009 http://www.idpcinfo.org/Deposition_Shore.pdf

FSU retracts disemmination of inaccurate information about IDPC

January 5, 2010

Dear Professors Butler and Wiedegreen,

We wish to gratefully acknowledge your retractions. Much as we appreciate them, these admissions are unfortunately insufficient because there is no indication that you have shared them with the parties to whom the misrepresentations were originally disseminated, as we have requested.  I cannot think of any reason why you would be unwilling to set the record straight, particularly in light of the admissions and retractions you have made in your most recent letter to me.

In addition, your latest correspondence contains a number of new errors, which we will once again endeavor to correct in the attached letter:  http://www.idpcinfo.org/IDPC_Response_to_FSU_010510.pdf

 

 

December 30, 2009

IDPC requests retraction from FSU professors

September 28, 2009

Mr. Eric A. Wiedegreen, Professor and Chair

Mr. David M. Butler, Associate Professor

The Florida State University, Department of Interior Design

Mr. Wiedegreen and Mr. Butler,

I am in possession of your September 4th letter to the attention of Florida Interior Design Educators and Students, in which the Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC) was cited several times, charged with an attitude, behavior and/or tactics that are neither true nor supported by any documentation. I hope you will agree that it is important to the principles of higher learning to ensure that students are presented with factual information on issues relevant to their chosen profession, particularly a matter as controversial and impacting as the topic of government-imposed regulation. FSU’s own “A Summons to Responsible Freedom” states “Truthfulness in one’s claims and representations and honesty in one’s activities are essential in life and vocation, and the realization of truthfulness and honesty is an intrinsic part of the educational process.” Sadly, that policy appears to have been abandoned. Since the information in your letter was inaccurate, unsupported, and rhetorical rather than factual, I am requesting that you issue an immediate retraction of all references to IDPC to all recipients of your letter.

In addition, kindly provide us with a list of all the alleged “false accusations brought about by the Interior Design Protection Council.” IDPC takes great care to thoroughly research and provide the design community with factually accurate information, and if you feel we provided anything untruthful during the course of our lobbying the legislative or executive branches of the Florida government in the 2009 legislative session, we would certainly like the opportunity to review these potentially factually incorrect statements. Regarding this statement that you did provide:

“The IDPC has recently contacted Allied ASID members nationwide with the claim that Florida law is excluding them from practice and targeting them for possible fines and cease and desist orders.”

This is not a false accusation at all, but rather, a truthful exposé of the devastating effects of Florida Statutes 481. Allied ASID members are not NICDQ-certified, and since NCIDQ certification is required for licensure in Florida, naturally the law excludes them. It is also true that many Allied ASID members have been the victims of Florida’s aggressive disciplinary scrutiny – actions, which if you are not aware, remain on the Board of Architecture and Interior Design website and internet as having been disciplined, and even the BOAID – by way of consenting to the Institute for Justice’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction – appears to agree (or at least capitulate) to the premise that non-NCIDQ residential designers (which would include the Allied ASID) have been unfairly targeted.

Regarding the issue of whether or not interior designers should or need to be regulated, certainly you are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own set of facts. If you wish to believe that licensing will save the world from negligent, unqualified designers, so be it. The facts, however, demonstrate otherwise.

  • FACT: In the 30-year, multi-million dollar lobbying campaign for state-sanctioned regulation, not a shred of evidence has been presented to warrant a conclusion that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public, “unsuspecting” or otherwise, in any form of jeopardy whatsoever.
  • FACT: 12 government agencies have studied the need for interior design regulation and without exception, all recommended against any type of regulation on the basis that it would add absolutely nothing to the protection of the public beyond that which is already in place.
  • FACT: Of the more than 600 disciplinary actions brought against the interior design community in the last five years by the Smith, Thompson firm on behalf of the State Board, not a single individual was prosecuted for having harmed the public.
  • FACT: According to the Better Business Bureau and other sources, since 1907 only 52 lawsuits have been filed against interior designers, in the entire country, and contract issues, not safety concerns, clearly dominate the claims asserted. If the pro-legislation faction’s claim had any legitimacy, it would stand to reason that consumer advocacy groups, the Division of Consumer Affairs, states’ Attorney General’s Offices, etc., would be converging upon the state legislatures demanding regulation of the multitude of unqualified, dangerous designers who are allegedly harming the public in the commercial spaces each day. Nothing of the kind has occurred.
  • FACT: There has been no public outcry from consumers indicating that they have been unfairly treated, physically harmed or that they are confused about interior design services. The public does not lack the ability to make informed choices about who they retain for design services – they do not need, nor is it appropriate, for the government to take this decision out of the hands of the consumer and dictate who they may or may not hire.
  • FACT: The only ones clamoring for “regulation” are a small handful of industry insiders who are looking to the state to “regulate” their competitors who obviously are contending for business and earning a living without any public concern.

Your assertion, “Education has already come into question by some who support the initiative to abandon licensing of Interior Designers nationwide,” is also unsupported and deliberately misleading. Susan Morgan, President ASID FSC recently published similar rhetoric declaring that the IDPC and the Institute for Justice are “NOT interested in education and experience and have little regard for public safety.” Yet, neither FSU nor Morgan supplies any evidence to support such provocative claims.

  • FACT: IDPC is a strong advocate of higher education and private certification as a means of increasing knowledge and ability as well enhancing market presence – the IDPC does not believe, nor is there any supporting empirical evidence, that there should be a government mandated, single-entry method into the field. And any comments purporting that IDPC has “little regard for public safety” or would in any way place “an unsuspecting public in potential harm” are ludicrous and serve only to undermine the credibility of the author.

Moreover, you assert, “We believe the only way to [promote the protection of the public in matters of health, safety and welfare] is to maintain laws that protect an unsuspecting public from potential harm brought about by those who are under educated and/or inexperienced attempting to practice in a discipline in which they are not qualified.” Kindly provide us with even one example of a consumer being harmed by interior design services performed by someone you and/or FS481 deems as “uneducated” or “inexperienced.” The absence of pragmatic substantiation for this inflammatory statement reduces this claim to nothing more than a scare tactic with which to ensure impressionable students will march in lockstep with your own political agenda. This kind of heavy-handed influence is inappropriate in an educational setting which should embrace the principles of honesty, integrity, and academic freedom. You may recall the incident of student coercion which took place at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in June and in which AIP President George Pry subsequently acknowledged and allegedly remedied. Undue influence of students to support an instructor’s own political agenda, particularly without being presented with both sides of the issue should not be allowed to go unchecked in any institute of higher learning.

Further, in your email of September 10th to educators in various institutions, you strongly advocate both Janice Young, President of the Interior Design Associations Foundation and IDAF itself. As you may be aware, IDAF recently revamped its website, and the new site contains a plethora of statements about interior design regulation which are blatantly false, misleading, and so nakedly partisan that we believe it is inappropriate for a state university to advocate it to students, other educators, or to the public at large. A sampling of some of the deliberately untruthful statements is attached to this document.

A question has also circulated as to why Mr. Wiedegreen uses the appellation “Allied” ASID, as that is generally associated with non-NCIDQ certified members. It would certainly give the impression of hypocrisy for Mr. Wiedegreen to be publically advocating the NCIDQ as the minimum standard for entry into interior design for everyone else, yet be “unqualified” to practice under his own scheme.

Lastly, your assertion that “the IDPC has mounted a nationwide campaign targeting students for membership” is blatantly untrue. While we freely acknowledge that student outreach and education regarding the negative impact of regulation is an important issue that needs future attention and action, no such operation has been enacted to date, either through email, postal mail, seminars, or any other means. Perhaps the time has come to begin, though.

In conclusion, we respectfully request that The Florida State University (1) send a retraction of the inaccurate information regarding the IDPC in its September 4, 2009 letter to all recipients, and (2) send a retraction of its recommendation of IDAF/Janice Young in your email of September 10, 2009, to all recipients including but not limited to students and educators, with copies sent to our email address above.

In the future, if you should have a question regarding any of IDPC’s positions, please feel free to contact us for clarification and/or accuracy, and cease distributing unsubstantiated assumptions.

Sincerely,

Patti Morrow Executive Director

cc: T. K. Wetherell, President, Florida State University

Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida

Clark Neily, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice

Ed Nagorsky, General Counsel, National Kitchen and Bath Association

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