TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and International Interior Design Association (IIDA) have urged lawmakers to remove a provision from House Bill (HB) 5005 that would impact registered interior designers. The bill deregulates 14 professions and could end up costing Florida businesses millions of dollars in additional costs each year.
Currently, interior designers are not required to be licensed by the state and are part of an already unregulated profession. However, a select number of interior designers looking to specialize in the profession have taken additional coursework, training and a national examination to become registered interior designers.
“It seems unnecessary to single out and penalize thousands of registered interior designers who voluntarily sought more training and applied for a license,” says Don Davis, director of government and public affairs for ASID. “This legislation as it stands will threaten competition within the industry leading to higher costs and less choices for Florida’s businesses.”
“Particularly in the current economic climate, I question the need to eliminate regulation that allows registered interior designers to establish independent small businesses, hire workers, increase payrolls and contribute to the tax base,” says Allison Levy, senior director of government and regulatory affairs for IIDA. “This legislation has no effect on non-registered interior designers, but effectively prevents registered interior designers from continuing their current work.”
The efforts could have a devastating effect on Florida’s shaky economy and cost many Floridians their job:
- Deregulation will eliminate commercial interior designers and create a monopoly for design services. Under the proposed legislation, registered designers performing commercial interior design work in environments such as hospitals, office buildings and public spaces will no longer be allowed to sign and seal construction documents, thus eliminating all competition in the industry since it would prevent anyone other than licensed architects from working in a building code-based environment.
- Deregulation does not affect residential interior designers. It is a misrepresentation to describe interior designers as a regulated profession. In Florida, anyone can currently practice as an interior designer. If HB 5005 passes as is, residential interior designers will not be affected.
- Deregulation will cost Florida businesses tens of millions of dollars in increased costs to the consumer and lost revenues to the state. If the law passes, Florida businesses will pay an estimated additional $50 million dollars per year due to the elimination of competition for commercial interior design. Further, revenue generated by registration fees creates a stable source of income for Florida. Eliminating the ability of designers to voluntarily apply for a license in the state will result in a loss of this revenue.
“As a registered architect I know the value of working alongside registered interior designers, who understand the building codes and have the regulatory oversight and training to sign and seal plans,” says Representative Charles Van Zant, AIA.
Also joining ASID and IIDA was Walt Dartland, executive director of the Consumer Federation of the Southeast and Susan Morgan, ASID, CAPS, LEED AP, Green AP, RID, president and principal designer of Susan Morgan Interiors.
Despite claims from opponents, those who choose not to apply for a license are not prevented from practicing interior design work. Rather, the benefit gained by licensing is that a designer who has demonstrated the knowledge, skill and ability to the state may create and submit non-structural drawings in order to apply for permits related to the proposed work.
Former long-serving Florida Deputy Attorney General-turned-consumer advocate Darland expressed his concerns with HB 5005 as a person who handled consumer complaints related to many of the professions included in the deregulation bill.
“If this bill moves forward special interest groups with agendas may prevail,” said Dartland. “I urge lawmakers to remove provisions that will risk jobs for thousands of interior designers.”