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Advocacy Spotlight: New Report Makes the Case for Interior Design Licensing in California

IIDA Chapters and interior design coalitions are on the front lines of state-level advocacy. Starting today, we are spotlighting the advocacy efforts of these organizations, beginning with the Interior Design Coalition of California. 

Article contributed by the Interior Design Coalition of California.

On Oct. 4, 2016, the Little Hoover Commission released their report on Occupational Licensing in California. The report makes a case for licensing commercial interior design in California, despite interior design was used as an example of a profession that should not be licensed at the first hearing and in initial discussions between commission staff and the Interior Design Coalition of California’s (IDCC) lobbyists. Continued discussions with Commission staff and IDCC testimony in subsequent hearings resulted in the case for the licensing of commercial design.

The Little Hoover Commission is an independent state oversight agency that was created in 1962. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state government operations and promote efficiency, economy, and improved service. By statute, the Commission is a balanced bipartisan board composed of five citizen members appointed by the Governor, four citizen members appointed by the Legislature, two Senators and two Assembly members. The Commission selects study topics that come to its attention from citizens, legislators, and other sources. In addition, it has a statutory obligation to review and make recommendations on proposed government reorganization plans.

This year, the Commission took on the challenge of putting together a series of thoughtful hearings to discuss occupational licensing in California. The focus of the Commission’s review is on the impact of occupational licensing on upward mobility and opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation for Californians, particularly those of modest means. The Commission also examined the result of occupational licensing on the cost and availability of services provided by licensed practitioners to consumers. Lastly, the Commission explored the balance between protecting consumers and enabling Californians to enter the occupation of their choice.

During the first hearing, one panelist raised interior designers as an example occupation that did not require licensure because the panelist confused the work of designers and decorators. To counter this point, the Interior Design Coalition of California (IDCC) was thrilled to participate in the second hearing in June.  Deborah Davis, FASID, director-at-large for IDCC, testified to the Commission regarding the work of interior designers and the need for interior designers to be licensed in the state of California. Davis was able to educate the Commission on our work and raise a variety of relevant points as to why licensure for interior designers working in the code-impacted environment would especially help those who own small businesses, 90 percent of whom happen to be women. The Commissioners responded well to Davis’ testimony, featuring our arguments in the final report. IDCC is looking forward to continued collaboration with the Little Hoover Commission and other stakeholders in the future as we continue to work towards our goals for the interior design profession in California in 2017 and beyond.

Read the Commission’s Full Report.


The Interior Design Coalition of California advocates for the legal recognition of qualified Interior Designers in the State of California. Through collaboration, education and advocacy, IDCC strives to present a unified voice for the California Interior Design community to support and protect the profession of interior design.

 

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Q&A with the Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania

The Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania (IDLCPA) has been diligently working to promote the Interior Design profession through legislative efforts. IDLCPA introduced legislation in 2016 that would allow for the registration of interior designers in Pennsylvania. Currently, the architecture law prevents interior designers from working to the fullest extent of their abilities. Here, Jennifer Winters, NCIDQ, President of IDLCPA, provides highlights of the organization’s work, her insight into advocating for interior design, and an overview of the new legislation.

IIDA: How would this legislation impact your career and the careers of interior designers?

Winters: Interior designers are currently restricted by the state of Pennsylvania from practicing interior design in a code-based environment. IDLCPA is working on legislation seeking interior design registration for designers that practice code-driven interior planning and design. Senate bill PA SB 1021 will address registration in a way that will not impact designers currently practicing in residential, kitchen and bath, and decorative markets. When passed, the legislation will directly impact my career and the career of many other interior designers in a positive way by allowing interior designers to:

  • Submit permit drawings for their clients without having to hire an architect.
  • Bid on state and federal interior design contracts.
  • Certify documents for permitting.
  • Benefit from reciprocity.
  • Provide consumers a venue for the redress of grievances.
  • Reduce consumer costs by eliminating the expensive document processing.

Additionally, this would establish a requirement that licensed interior designers continually educate themselves on the practices of interior design.

IIDA: How has the coalition built grassroots support for the legislation?

Winters: For the IDLCPA coalition, communication has been key. We are constantly looking for new ways to communicate with architects, interior designers, and industry members.

We host town hall events across the state, which tend to be more intimate group conversations.

We use LinkedIn and Facebook.

We partner with IIDA and ASID. Both organizations always allow us the time and space to advocate for interior design licensure.

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IIDA: What has surprised you the most about the legislative process?

Winters: I was surprised at how many people have an opinion regarding an issue, but do not take action. I also was surprised at how approachable our legislators are and how interested they are to hear from their constituents. The time and consideration that senators and representatives have given IDLCPA has been amazing. Many have offered support and strategies over the years, and this has been a critical part of our success.

IIDA: What do you wish other designers knew about interior design legislation?

Winters: Interior designers need to understand that the profession is restricted and that their future is limited to working under a registered architect. This legislation supports the growth, development, and future education of the Interior Design profession.

IIDA: How has the IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter supported the legislative efforts?

Winters: Over the years, our IIDA local chapter has donated endless hours of time and resources. We often partner in fundraising events that allow IDLCPA to continue to pay for our lobbyist fees, Interior Design Day at the Capitol, marketing materials, and travel expenses. IIDA also allows IDLCPA to advertise and promote our cause within its communications. As the IIDA Advocacy platform has grown, the coalition benefits from new marketing materials and the connection with the government relations department, as well as the energized supporters that want to help.

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2015 IIDA Advocacy Highlights

As you all know, IIDA HQ hosted its first annual Advocacy Symposium in Austin, Texas, which was a resounding success. We appreciate each and every one of you who attended and can hardly wait to see you in 2016 in Denver.

Thank you to the IIDA Texas/Oklahoma Chapter for hosting the IIDA Advocacy Symposium. In 2015, the Chapter, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Interior Design Coalition, also supported legislation amending the law requiring CEUs in Oklahoma. The IIDA TX/OK Chapter, with the Texas Association for Interior Design, also defeated a deregulation attempt in the Texas legislature.

The IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter’s Advocacy Team had its first annual community service project, BRIDGE. Along with IIDA members and other supporters, the advocacy team is working to complete a design renovation for the Central Area Senior Center. A very special thank you goes to the Chapter members who volunteered with HQ staff at the IIDA booth at the 2015 National Conference of State Legislators Summit in Seattle in August.

The IIDA PA/NJ/DE Chapter created the “I DID” advocacy campaign to support the Interior Design Legislation Coalition of Pennsylvania’s introduction of SB1021, which would allow for registration of interior designers and allow for them to submit interior construction documents for permits from local jurisdictions in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter held a successful, creative event at the Denver State Capitol in Denver. With the Colorado Interior Design Coalition, the Chapter had a coffee cart at the capitol allowing them to network with dozens of legislators.

The IIDA Tennessee Chapter was instrumental in helping reshape and rebuild the Tennessee Interior Design Coalition. They assisted the coalition in renaming (TN-IDEAL) and helped the coalition rebuild as it enters its 25th year in 2016.

The Wisconsin Chapter also has been instrumental in reorganizing the Interior Design Coalition of Wisconsin. Several chapter members are on the interim board, which already hosted a CEU event in 2015. A special thanks to Janet Hirsch, IIDA, who successfully kept the coalition running before this recent influx of fantastic volunteers.

The IIDA Ohio Kentucky Chapter held a successful Advocacy Roadshow throughout its region. A special thank you to Cheri Tucker, IIDA and VP of Advocacy, who organized the event.

The Illinois Interior Design Coalition in collaboration with the IIDA Illinois Chapter, led by VP of Advocacy Dan Bassano, IIDA, organized a successful Lobby Day in Springfield, Illinois, with over 100 interior designers and students walking the capitol to inform legislators on their current bill to license interior design in the state.

In 2015, IIDA Advocates. . .

  • Met with their state legislators
  • Sent letters and emails to state legislators
  • Attended legislative committee meetings
  • Organized and attended Interior Design Lobby Days at state capitols
  • Held town halls, forums, and panels about advocacy
  • Hosted NCIDQ study groups
  • Supported introduced bills in Utah, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania
  • Help passed CEU requirements in Oklahoma
  • Met with students at universities
  • Volunteered with HQ at National Conference of State Legislators Annual Summit
  • Produced advocacy campaigns
  • Planned an advocacy roadshow
  • Volunteered and participated in community events
  • Distributed advocacy flyers, brochures, and pamphlets
  • Attended the first annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium
  • Led and participated in Coalitions’ Board of Directors
  • Planned and execute strategic advocacy plans in IIDA Chapters and coalitions

Be a part of something bigger. Advocate for your profession. Learn more at advocacy.iida.org. #IIDAadvocacy

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Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities Honorable Mention Award – New England Chapter

Every year, IIDA celebrates its chapters with the Chapter Awards, which recognize individual chapters for their outstanding achievement in specialty categories. The awards are designed to encourage IIDA chapters to develop and maintain excellence in their work to enhance the Interior Design profession at the local level. This year, the New England Chapter was awarded honorable mention for Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities.

On Aug. 21, 2014 after years of dedication and hard work, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill 4303, which allows Massachusetts interior designers to bid on state projects. We asked Aimee M. Schefano, IIDA, vice president of advocacy of the New England Chapter, a few questions about what makes advocacy work in the New England Chapter.

What do you think made your application stand out?

Our application stands out in large part because after three decades of pursuing legislation, the state of Massachusetts has finally recognized Interior Design as a profession with the state now allowing interior designers to bid on state works. While this is an amazing and incredible feat on its own, the true story of greatness here is one of perseverance and collaboration. As a united front, IIDA New England worked with ASID New England and the local Massachusetts Interior Design Coalition (MiDC) to pursue these efforts. It was as a team that we were able to achieve our goals here in Massachusetts with each participating organization playing an equally crucial role.

Why is advocacy important at the chapter level? How do you convey that message to members?

At a chapter level we are ultimately our own worst enemy if we cannot continue to effectively communicate the importance of maintaining current legislative efforts while simultaneously looking to the future. We achieved greatness this past year but need to keep the momentum going. Corinne [Corinne Barthelemy, IIDA, LEED AP, President of the New England Chapter] put this most poignantly when she said, “In order to effectively progress legislation, advocacy needs to be part of the vernacular of the entire design community and not just a few select individuals.”

Right now we have a strong support base but there is so much opportunity to expand our advocate population and the general awareness level among our peers. We will continue to promote advocacy at IIDA New England events and are beginning to strategize new events, either co-sponsored with ASID or MiDC, to deepen our collaborative bonds. We are also in the process of a kind of rebranding so that the voice of advocacy continues to be united across local organizations and to keep it relevant for multiple populations. In particular, our future goals include a broader spectrum of participation from student members so that as they mature into the professional realm, they have a clear understanding of our mission and our message, hopefully ensuring their continued support throughout their careers.

What do you wish other designers knew about advocacy and the legislative process?

In the grand scheme of things, designers should understand that it’s a living, breathing movement — one that needs an ever present voice until we receive full professional equality and recognition within the law. It literally is the future of our profession and that is why it holds such significance. On a more intimate level, designers should also know that advocacy is not just about legislation. It is also an opportunity for support and education. It is a forum for celebrating our accomplishments and brainstorming new ideas for those designers who come after us.


For more information about advocacy in the Interior Design profession, visit the IIDA Advocacy page.

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Oregon Chapter: Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities Award Winner

Every year, IIDA celebrates its chapters with the Chapter Awards, which recognize individual chapters for their outstanding achievement in specialty categories. The awards are designed to encourage IIDA chapters to develop and maintain excellence in their work to enhance the Interior Design profession at the local level. The Oregon Chapter won the 2015 award for Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities for their work in promoting advocacy and the Interior Design profession in their state. The chapter has worked diligently to build support for legislation through creative events and a successful partnership with the state coalition. We asked Bethanne Mikkelsen, IIDA, NCIDQ Certificate No. 29445, LEED AP ID+C, vice president of advocacy of the Oregon Chapter, about what makes their program successful even though the states currently does not have an interior design law in place.

Why is advocacy important at the chapter level? How do you convey that message to members?

For many of our members, legislation can be overwhelming and confusing. Its inherent process and associated verbiage have long been factors that deter engagement. Our objective was to break down this barrier of understanding and to inspire participation through regular, clear, and simple updates about the pursuit of interior design legislation in Oregon.Preview Changes

In response to feedback from members, a blog was created as part of the new website. The advocacy team has utilized this blog to provide regular and informative advocacy updates including IIDA initiatives. This has served as an overall foundation for understanding and engages the community by bringing them along as partners.

To further encourage engagement, we focused the topic of our annual membership appreciation event around developing a consistent message about the services of commercial interior designers: what we do and why it is important and worth regulating. This empowering discussion highlighted the new advocacy tools and messaging from IIDA, featured a panel of advocates from our region, including the coalition lobbyist, and was attended by a legislator — a FIRST EVER for the chapter. The discussion continued well past the scheduled end of the event and has remained a major topic of discussion within the chapter.

How has the chapter worked with the state coalition? What makes is successful?

The chapter has been successful in working with the coalition in several ways. The coalition board restructured so that there is a co-chair from IIDA and a co-chair from ASID running the organization. The coalition felt that this was helpful in creating a unified effort between IIDA and ASID.

Also, every year the coalition enters into a business agreement with IIDA. The coalition submits the agreement to IIDA outlining sponsorship requests, funding requests, and anything else that is imperative for the year. This allows successful planning and helps to create a unified collaboration between the two organizations.

How do you build up support for advocacy prior to a bill being introduced?

One of the most important things we can do to build support for a bill is to start the discussion surrounding its development and its importance early. Keeping this conversation active is a way to foster consistent engagement while providing the education of the bill language, its positive outcomes, and clarity in messaging needed to develop advocates. We have found that consistent and clear messaging makes the bill more approachable and easier to rally around. Maintaining this dialogue has also made it easier to inform members of outreach opportunities and ways that they can actively be involved.

What do you wish other designers knew about advocacy?

We have all heard this before but I will say it again: You are your own best advocate; you have a voice, and a right to use it. Regardless if you are a sole proprietor or work in a large firm, qualified interior designers have the education and experience required to practice interior design without the oversight of another design professional. Helping to make a difference in professional recognition of interior design is really rewarding!


Want to learn more about advocating for the Interior Design profession, visit the IIDA Advocacy page!

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Stamp and Seal Legislation: What You Need to Know

Josie is an interior designer in New York. She graduated from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Josie has also passed the NCIDQ exam and has over four years of commercial interior design experience at a firm in New York City. The state of New York recognizes her as a certified interior designer.

Josie is a project lead but she cannot pull the permits to start construction on a project. When she creates technical drawings of her work, she cannot submit them to local building jurisdictions for building permits. Despite her education, years of experience, passing of an examination that proves her competency in the health, safety, and well-being of the public, and state certification, Josie’s work has to be approved and submitted by an architect or an engineer – even if the work is for nonstructural interior spaces.

Why can’t Josie submit her own drawings? Because interior design is a new and still developing profession, the ability to submit drawings for permits has not yet been recognized in most states. But stamp and seal legislation allows interior designers who have met the education, experience, and examination qualifications to literally stamp and seal the construction documents for submission to local building officials for approval and permits. Is it any surprise that architects and engineers who have been regulated for decades are actively working to prevent interior designers from having the same privileges?

Stamp and seal legislation elevates the practice and profession of commercial interior design, by creating a new tier of professionals — like the hypothetical Josie — within the design industry. Look at landscape architects who work in exterior spaces like garden designers and landscapers, but must obtain more education, pass a stringent exam, and receive a state license since their work impacts the public. Likewise, attorneys receive more education and must be licensed as they are more liable than paralegals.

While there is a myth that stamp and seal legislation restricts decorators or residential designers from continuing to do what they have always done, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, one of the benefits of stamp and seal legislation is that it expands an interior designer’s scope of practice and encourages growth, allowing interior designers to own a controlling interest in their firms.

Commercial interior designers have the necessary education, experience, and examination to protect the general public’s health, safety, and well-being in the interior code-impacted environment. There is no question that stamp and seal legislation will do more for the profession.


Feeling empowered? Visit the IIDA Advocacy site and send a letter to your legislator supporting interior design legislation.