IIDA Members Testify in Ohio to Defeat Proposed Sales Tax on Interior Design Services

A proposed sales tax in Ohio, introduced in the state budget bill in January 2017, sought to tax interior design and decoration services. The tax provision would have put Ohio’s interior designers at a disadvantage in relation to interior designers in neighboring states, as well as other design professionals whose services are not taxed. IIDA, together with the American Society for Interior Designers (ASID), mobilized a grassroots advocacy campaign and successfully defeated the proposed tax.

Here, Tamra Fuscaldo, IIDA, NCIDQ, an interior designer for healthcare, higher education, and corporate facilities, and the past president of the IIDA Ohio Kentucky Chapter, shares her experience testifying before the Ohio Legislature about the negative effects the proposed sales tax would have had on the Interior Design industry in Ohio.

IIDA: Why was it important for you to get involved and testify in front of the Ohio Legislature?

Tamra Fuscaldo: I have been in the Interior Design industry for over 25 years. I feel that it is my responsibility to stand up for our profession. We are continually misunderstood and mislabeled, and I will do whatever I can to change that narrative.

IIDA: What key points were used in Ohio that made a big impact?

TF: For the legislation involving taxing of luxury services in Ohio, the bill was written with too broad of a definition. The intent was to tax the consumers, those who might have discretionary funds, when hiring a residential interior designer or decorator, referred to as business to consumer (B2C). I wanted to make it clear that the definition included commercial interior designers, those who worked in the business to business (B2B) sector. Commercial interior designers typically have at least a four-year degree, pass the NCIDQ, and have years of specialized experience in interiors. Moreover, with this tax, project costs would rise, impacting budgets and causing small firms to lower their fees in order to compete. Essentially, this was a tax on professional services not luxury services.

IIDA: What were the keys to success in Ohio?

TF: The profession of interior design has a long way to go in terms of advocacy. The public, including our legislative representatives, do not have a clear understanding of the complexity of our industry. During our hearings, we represented the Interior Design industry well, and I hope we were able to change the perspectives of legislators who were present. Ultimately, we have to show value in our profession in a way that puts us on par with architects and engineers. The key to success in Ohio was being able to define interior design to legislators as a professional and technical industry that benefits the public.


Want to learn more about advocating for the Interior Design profession? Join us at the next IIDA Advocacy Symposium.

Iowa Interior Designers Defeat Deregulation: Here’s What Happened

Iowa’s Interior Design Title Act passed the Iowa legislature in 2005, after a five-year effort to create the title “registered interior designer” for individuals with the appropriate education, experience, and examination. Beginning in 2013, the importance of professional regulation in Iowa, including “registered interior designer,” was questioned in multiple editorials in the Des Moines Register. One editorial emphasized the importance of licensing boards relative to the profession of public health and safety as being unrelated to interiors—we strongly disagree.

Another editorial by the newspaper’s editorial staff in January 2017 called for comprehensive job licensing review. It specifically says the state “should not house an examining board for interior designers or keep tabs on manicurists.” Due to the specific nature of the article, Caitlin Sheeder, IIDA, IIDA Great Plains Chapter president, and Jennifer Voorhees, Great Plains Chapter vice president of advocacy, responded with a letter to the editor to explain why interior design registration should matter to Iowans. Meanwhile, a bill was introduced that would have limited how the state could regulate professions. The Great Plains Chapter, led by Voorhees, hired the lobbyist firm Carney & Appleby PLC to represent the interior designers in Iowa. The lobbyists worked behind the scenes to ensure that legislators knew the importance of interior design registration for Iowans.

The same day that the rebuttal editorial was published, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann introduced a House Study Bill that would have eliminated interior design registration as well as registration for barbers, hearing aid specialists, and massage therapists. In addition, it would’ve altered the registration and regulation of several other professions. The representative received over 3,600 emails, including from interior designers, and could not escape people wanting to talk to him about the bill. On February 28, Rep. Kaufmann, subcommittee chair of the subcommittee where the bill was being heard, ripped up the cover page for the bill to show his updated opinion on professional regulation reform.

The Great Plains Chapter has had the same epiphany many of us have had this year: We cannot let advocacy be a secondary concern. As such, the chapter participated in AIA Iowa’s Design Professionals Day on the Hill to ensure legislators were educated about the Interior Design profession and its economic impact on the state of Iowa. Furthermore, they’re working to include advocacy in chapter meetings and events. Diligence and education are necessary to ensure that interior design stays a recognized profession.


Learn more about interior design advocacy and how to be an advocate at advocacy.iida.org.

IIDA New England: Committed to Interior Design Advocacy Through Action

Over the last 18 months, the IIDA New England Chapter – with help from IIDA HQ – has hired a lobbying firm, actively engaged with ASID legislative leaders, reached out to the Massachusetts design community, met with lawmakers and officials, and introduced an interior design registration bill into the Massachusetts State Legislature. Undertaking an initiative of this size and scope is no small task and requires a team effort as well as strong leadership. Aimee M. Schefano, Vice President of Advocacy for the New England Chapter, has led the charge, working diligently to convey the importance of this initiative both to the Chapter board and local design leaders.

The lesson learned by IIDA New England? IIDA Chapters have power when it comes to advocacy. Board members are leaders in the design community, and as such, have an amplified voice. When those voices are conveying the same message, real change can happen. If an issue is important to the profession, it is too important to sit on the sidelines.

In addition to the amplified voice of board members, IIDA Chapters can reallocate funding to support advocacy initiatives. While there are many priorities in a Chapter’s budget— from professional development initiatives to events—boards can help rearrange how funding is used, create new revenue streams, or prioritize advocacy and legislation above other initiatives. IIDA New England demonstrated this by using their chapter funds to engage with one of the preeminent lobbying firms in New England.

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It has also proven important for the Chapter to work together with other associations in order to build a strong network of professionals working to advance a common goal. Schefano and Past-President Corinne Barthelemy have worked with ASID New England to create the Massachusetts Advocacy Council of ASID and IIDA, operating under the two chapters and facilitating the shared mission to advance the profession of interior design.

“Educating our profession is crucial to progress. Part of that education requires IIDA members to work collaboratively with other industry leaders. We are never stronger than when we all stand together against adversity,” said Schefano. “In Massachusetts, the design community is represented by a multitude of associations. What has helped us evolve our advocacy strategy is acknowledging that ultimately we are all interior designers, and that is what is most important. “

Through unified voices, effective funding, and organizational collaborations, IIDA New England has set a foundation that will surely lead to advocacy successes in Massachusetts.


For more on interior design advocacy, visit advocacy.iida.org

Passion and Practice in Action at the 2016 Advocacy Symposium

Today’s post is written by Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA, Assoc AIA, who attended the 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium in Denver on Sept. 23 – 25, 2016. 

The second annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium flew by – a whirlwind of thoughtful, impassioned conversations dedicated to advancing interior design recognition across the country. Hosted in Denver by IIDA and the Rocky Mountain Chapter, the Symposium was an opportunity for interior design advocates to connect, share best practices, and reinvigorate our collective passion for the profession.

Practicing at the intersection of architecture and interior design, I’ve been supporting interior design recognition since moving to Seattle in 2011 and serving as the Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Northern Pacific Chapter. Coping with a recent defeat at the capitol, the Chapter had taken a step back to reframe our approach to the legislative process. Our focus shifted to a broader definition of advocacy, which included engaging our city communities and developing a shared vision among our industry professionals. In parallel, the IIDA International Board of Directors prioritized advocacy and launched a series of initiatives to support change, such as the Advocacy Symposium and Advisory Council.  Continue reading

5 Reasons to Get Motivated About Interior Design Advocacy

Today’s post is guest written by IIDA Professional Member Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP.

Attending the IIDA Advocacy Symposium is a ditch-your-spouse-on-your-wedding-anniversary kind of opportunity. At least, it was for me in 2015.  #sorrynotsorry #advocacyinaction. So what did I learn last year that trumped celebrating my marriage? Here are my top five highlights:

“Never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, painted a picture of advocates as optimists living in the present. They have a healthy respect for the past but don’t dwell on it, and they understand that the future can happen in a nanosecond. Advocates do not let others define who they are in a political context. They know the value of “yes” and when to say “no,” and they know that sometimes “no” is the beginning of the negotiation. Lastly, Cheryl challenged us to “never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”

All Wins Matter

Ryan Ben, Student Engagement and Advancement Manager, told us to hone our message: “Find the heart, find the brain, and lose the fat.” The way to motivate others is through positivity – all wins matter. But arguably the best advice Ryan gave actually comes from the incomparable Parks and Recreation character, Ron Swanson: “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”

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Ryan Ben, Student Engagement and Advancement Manager at IIDA, presenting at last year’s Advocacy Symposium.

 

Be an Out-Hustler

Texas Representative Celia Israel taught us that a lawmaker is only as strong as stakeholder interest and, when you pursue legislation, all the work happens long before the first day of session. She recommended the best way to handle opposition stakeholders is to out-hustle them.

The Power of Networking – and Rising Above

Melanie Bahl, IIDA, President of I.D.E.A.L. for Utah, and lobbyist Amy Coombs told us about the power of asking for recommendations and name dropping shared connections to get your foot in the door. The most resonating piece of advice: the value of being united in purpose, message, and action. “To rise above the din and be heard, voices must be linked in something approaching unison.”

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IIDA Members at the 2015 Advocacy Symposium welcome reception.

 

It’s Not Just About You, It’s About Them

Other lobbyists cautioned us against asking for something the first time you meet a legislator. Go in when you don’t need something. Better yet, go when they need you.

The 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium will be educational, inspirational, and even therapeutic. Together, we will celebrate our interior design wins – big and small – from across the nation. The agenda has been carefully crafted with presenters who will arm you with political, grassroots, managerial, and strategic know-how. You will expand your resources, have epiphanies about what you could be doing in your state, and leave refreshed and refueled with new ideas and tactics that will guide you in your advocacy efforts. Fortunately for me, this year’s Symposium doesn’t conflict with my anniversary because I sure would hate to leave my husband a second year in a row. See you in Denver!


 Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP, is the Director of the Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. She is a member of the IIDA Advocacy Advisory Council and, in May of this year, was appointed to the Livable Nashville Committee started by Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry.

 The 2016 Advocacy Symposium will take place in Denver from Sept. 23-25. IIDA Members receive a special discounted rate to the event. Learn more about the Symposium and register by Sept. 16, 2016.

Why Advocacy Matters: The Student Perspective

Should interior design advocacy matter to young professionals who are just getting started in the industry—or even just getting started in a degree program? Absolutely. Here, IIDA Student Member Lindsey Torpey, a senior in interior design at the University of North Texas (she’s also simultaneously in her first year of the Master of Arts in Sustainability program), shares her thoughts on the importance of advocating for the profession and how attending last year’s IIDA Advocacy Symposium changed her perspective on interior design certification.

What is your role in the IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter?

Lindsey: I’m the Student Representative to the Board. In my position on the Texas Oklahoma Chapter Board, I act as a voice for students in the Chapter. Through my personal experiences as a Student Member and by speaking with other students about their experiences, I am able to add insight to Board meetings and discussions. The Board created my position last year as a way to have a more direct connection with students and a better understanding of what students need from their IIDA Student membership.

What does advocacy mean to you as a student?

Lindsey: For me, advocacy means spreading the understanding of what interior designers do every day, so we can continue to protect the health, safety, and welfare of individuals.

Can you tell us about your experience at the inaugural Advocacy Symposium in 2015?

Lindsey: The Advocacy Symposium was fantastic and educational! I really enjoyed all of the great speakers. Having the opportunity to hear directly from our lobbyists was so interesting. I knew a portion of my IIDA membership dues went to the advocacy campaign, but hearing how my funds contributed to their efforts was very interesting. We were also able to hear firsthand how Utah is fighting their advocacy campaign, which I think we can say they have made a huge step as they recently passed their bill for the certification of commercial interior designers in Utah. I also loved the tour of the Texas Capitol; it is jam-packed with so many beautiful details.

For me, the biggest takeaway from the Symposium was finally understanding the how struggle for licensure, registration, and certification is an ongoing process across the nation. I didn’t realize the scope of the situation. We each need to work to inform those around us of the difference registered interior designers make in our lives.

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Lindsey Torpey, Student IIDA, Student Representative to the Board of the IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter

 

Do you plan on getting registered?

Lindsey: Yes, I plan to get registered. I think sitting for the NCIDQ and becoming registered is so important. Those three letters, RID, communicate a knowledge base not everyone possesses. It communicates the work and dedication you have devoted to the profession. And overall, it communicates that you work every day to protect the health, safety, and welfare of society.

How can students get involved in interior design advocacy?

Lindsey: Advocacy is something where a discussion needs to be had. I didn’t know the scope of our advocacy campaign before the Symposium, and I really didn’t understand we needed to be making such significant efforts.


Students: Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium scheduled for Sept. 23-25 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver, Colorado. Registration opens in May. Students receive a special registration rate. Learn more.