Current Ongoing Legislative Issues Facing the Design,
Decorating, ReDesign and Staging Industry
The National Board, State Presidents and RESA Executive Committee have voted unanimously to support the Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC) and the Institute of Justice (IOJ) in opposing the American Society of Interior Decorators (ASID) legislation to create Title and Practice Acts in the Design Industry.
RESA’s role as the trade association and the authority on staging is to give a voice to the professional stager and representing our member’s wants, needs and objectives. As such, we see our role as watch keepers for the industry and any events that could affect your ability to conduct your business. We have been listening to your concerns about this legislation and agree that this situation is a troubling trend in the design industry. We are committed to being your voice so professional stagers across North America are represented and not ignored.
Our decision to get involved was so we were not passively watching from the sidelines, as the effects of these political movements could make it difficult for stagers to operate their businesses as they have been.
The following document is a summary of the ASID’s goals and objectives, highlighting their political / legislative agenda, as well as a summary of the opposition’s position. This 48 page document is lengthy however, and while we encourage you to read it in its entirety, we have tried to summarize the pertinent information for you here.
Legislation in the form of “Title Acts” and “Practice Acts” are defined in the following paragraphs. This legislation affects many disciplines in the design profession including Interior Decorators, Interior Designers, Home Stagers, Kitchen & Bath professionals, Furniture stores, and many others in this general arena. The attached document shows most of the organizations that oppose the legislation.
Title acts do not require individuals to become “licensed” to practice interior design. Title acts govern use of a title. In other words, you can provide interior design services in a title act state, as long as you do not use the regulated title. ASID claims that Title acts benefit the public by providing an identifiable choice when hiring a designer – consumers can be confident that state registered interior designers have met a minimum level of professional qualifications. However, it should be noted that there has been no public outcry from consumers 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 are quite capable of reviewing portfolios and websites, interviewing potential designers (and stagers), checking references and checking private certification credentials to determine what level of professional fits their project. 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.
Title Acts as it applies to ASID’s request:
A Title Act is a state mandated bill which restricts the right for a person or company to use a particular title. This means that each STATE would then create a LAW that mandates that if you wish to use the TITLE “Interior Designer”, you then must pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, an exam that historically has a 40% passage rate, takes up to six months to prepare, requires 2 to 4 years of (usually unpaid) internship before applying, costs $2000 or more to take, and is rarely passed on the first attempt.
As a governing body, RESA understands certain “rules and/or standards” for calling yourself a particular title or using a designation if you have earned the right to do so – and we encourage our members to pursue the best educational opportunities available to them. However, these “Title Acts” will allow the government to get involved in this decision process.
Keep in mind that this TITLE ACT would still allow you to PRACTICE what you do (i.e. provide design / decorating / redesign services) but it would prohibit you from marketing yourself as an “Interior Designer” or have any use of the words “interior design” describing your services on your websites, marketing materials, etc. This would affect many professionals who currently have multiple disciplines in their businesses.
A Practice Act is a bill that limits ones right to “PRACTICE” certain roles and functions. In this case the state would enact a LAW that prohibits you from practicing certain functions within the scope of your business unless you have passed the NCIDQ. In addition, you must have a 4 –year degree in Interior Design from a qualified school, have apprenticed under a licensed interior designer that has passed the NCIDQ, and taken the exam.
Some currently stipulated restrictions in most Practice Acts are: space planning, (i.e. furniture layouts), which is prohibited under many practice acts unless you have passed the NCIDQ. Some practice acts, like the one in Alabama (which subsequently was struck down and declared unconstitutional by the Alabama supreme court), was so absurdly restrictive as to prohibit the placement of throw pillows as only allowable by licensed designers. Further, the “psychology of color” is listed by the pro-regulation faction as one of the “10 Ways Designers Save Lives.”
RESA sees these as very important issues as these Practice Acts will affect the professional stager’s rights to conduct business. According to the IDPC historically, title acts have been a "foot in the door" which then provided momentum for petitioning for a Practice Act.
Currently there are 3 states with Practice Acts: Florida, Nevada and Louisiana. In the state of Florida there have been several hundred disciplinary actions filed against 22 different types of businesses that are affected by this legislation, including fines and cease and desist orders which forced many people to lose their ability to earn a living. And not a single complaint had anything to do with harm to the health or safety of consumers.
WHY DOES ASID SUPPORT THIS? Their premise is in the guise of “protecting the consumer/public”. If you review their website: www.asid.org in addition to reading the attached information it is all about protecting the public. However, there are no documented cases of the public need protection from interior designers. In actually, the public needs more protection from decorators trying to move walls and be architects.
Why Should RESA Get Involved?
This is affecting stagers and will continue to affect stagers. The bottom line is as a trade association for professional stagers we have an obligation to work on this type of level to protect the rights of our industry. We believe that by getting involved and publically supporting the opposition it will bring more legitimacy to our group and our industry, It is better to get involved NOW then to wait until it’s too late and laws are passed that will affect you.
For more information visit: Interior Design Protection Council www.IDPCInfo.org and the Institute of Justice at www.IJ.org You will also find government studies and government opinions that legislation is not needed and will give the public fewer choices and cost them more money. Please also visit the archive newsletters on the IDPC website as many of these newsletter show personal experiences as well as giving vital information on legislation in many states.
RESA membership will also get the Newsletter notifications advising you of legislation in your state. Those newsletters will tell you about the specific bills and give you your representative’s names and contact information in addition to a sample letter you should send to have your voice be heard. During 2007/2008 the Institute of Justice and the IDPC have helped defeat 55 legislative acts, including 4 governor vetoes. They need our assistance in continuing to get legislation denied.
In Canada 6 provinces have a title act, one has a practice act, and one (Ontario) has legislation pending. So our Canadian membership should also be concerned and keep informed.
Should any members have questions or concerns please feel free to email me at Shell@RESA-HQ.org, I am available to correspond via email or we can make an appointment to talk via phone. We will keep the membership informed at all times.