Once again, the interior design profession is in the crosshairs of two pieces of legislation that seek to deregulate a variety of professions in the state of Florida. These proposals, HB 27 and SB 1640, have the support of a popular governor and the Florida Speaker of the House of Representatives. For several months, ASID and IIDA staff, member Government Affairs Representatives/chapter leaders, the profession’s contracted Florida consultants, and both organizations’ chief executives have been preparing for this moment and the forthcoming effort to make sure that at the end of the legislative session, interior designers are recognized by the State in an appropriate way befitting the professionalism of the practice.
HB 27 and SB 1640, which were introduced on March 1, 2018, will do several things. They would:
- Stipulate, “A license or registration is not required for a person whose occupation or practice is confined to interior design or interior design services”;
- Remove the interior design members from the current Board of Architecture & Interior Design and rename it as “The Board of Architecture”;
- Remove “interior designer” from the definition of “Design Professional” in statute leaving only architects, engineers, and landscape architects;
- Amend the definition of an interior designer under the “Qualified Expert” in the Building Construction Standards statute by deleting “an interior designer licensed under chapter 481” and replacing it with “An interior designer who has passed the qualification examination prescribed by either the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications or the California Council for Interior Design Certification.”
Additionally, as the result of IIDA and ASID’s proactive efforts in Tallahassee this year, unlike past deregulatory bills targeting Florida interior design, this year’s bills attempt (in theory) to maintain the ability of interior designers to independently submit interior design documents for permit by:
- Stipulating, “Interior design documents submitted for the issuance of a building permit by an individual performing interior design services who is not a licensed architect must include written proof that such individual has successfully passed the qualification examination prescribed by either the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications or the California Council for Interior Design Certification” and,
- Stipulating these documents, “must be accepted by the permitting body for the issuance of building permit for interior construction…”
IIDA and ASID Headquarters, in conjunction with ASID Florida chapters, IIDA Florida chapters, and unaffiliated designers, are jointly fighting to defeat or positively amend these bills to the best of our abilities.
To combat any harmful effects from these bills, IIDA, ASID, and our Florida teams, to date, have:
- Assembled a biweekly call of leaders from Florida IIDA and ASID chapters to keep them apprised of our efforts and how members can assist;
- Created an advocacy communication plan for Florida chapters concerning this issue;
- Created new advocacy materials for use in Florida;
- Retained Nortelus Roberts Group, a lobbying firm in Tallahassee, Florida, year-round and retained additional counsel to assist in the effort;
- Created a synopsis of the two bills for chapters, similar to what has been laid out here;
- Created a defensive narrative for chapter use in op-eds and letters to the editor across Florida;
- Organized a Phone2Action Campaign so members may easily contact their legislators to voice their disagreement with the bills;
- Testified before both the House and Senate.
As of April 8, Senator Joe Gruters of Florida’s 23rd district sponsored an amendment to remove interior design from the deregulation bill. The amendment was adopted and passed in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. However, the industry is not in the clear yet since the bill still has to complete the legislative process and eventually go the to the governor for signature or veto. IIDA and ASID remain hopeful that interior designers will stay out of the bill, and staff and lobbyists continue to work on a compromise to appease both the design community and the legislature in Florida.
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