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INSIDE BUSINESS / GUEST COMMENTARY
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Despite industry sponsorship of regulatory legislation,
the subject is not without opposition.
By Patti Morrow
Why regulate interior design? move inconspicuously toward a practice act roots interior design groups have sprung up
The primary purpose stated in virtually within a few years.” Unfortunately, this kind in several states, with many more targeted
all proposed interior design legislation is to of under-the-radar approach is a hallmark of for 2008.
protect the public. However, there is not a the pro-regulation camp. What changes have they been able to
shred of evidence that unregulated interior How would consumers be affected by affect in 2007?
design places the public in any form of jeop- regulation of interior design? In 2007, 24 new bills imposing some
ardy. In fact, the overwhelming evidence The Federal Trade Commission con- type of interior design regulation were in-
demonstrates that there is no threat to any cluded [in “The 5 Standards of Profes- troduced, yet at year’s end, none of them
public interest. According to the BBB [Bet- sional Regulation: An Examination of the were enacted. Additionally, the Alabama Su-
ter Business Bureau] and other consumer- Merits of Interior Design Regulation,” preme Court declared the Alabama practice
NCARB] that regulation would re- act unconstitutional and ordered it removed
[
There has been no consumer outcry for
[
sult in fewer choices and increased from the books, and the New Mexico legis-
regulation originating from confusion
cost to the consumer. There has been lature responded to litigation by amending
about services or mistreatment.
no consumer outcry for regulation the statute resulting in a less restrictive law
originating from confusion about [see “Fighting the Interior Design Cartel the
services or mistreatment. IJ Way, Liberty & Law,” December, 2007].
organizations, only 52 lawsuits have been What about the notion of regulation as a The momentum is clearly with the major-
fi led since 1907 in the entire country, and way to “garner respect from the public” [as ity of interior designers who do not need or
these were mainly contract, not safety, dis- seen in Interior Design From Practice to Pro- want regulation, and will continue to vera-
putes [see “Designing Cartels” by Dick Car- fession by Caren S. Martin, Ph.D., ASID]? ciously and tenaciously stand up for their
penter, Ph.D.]. The legislature should not regulate oc- freedom to practice in 2008.
What is the motive behind regulation? cupations for the sole purpose of provid-
Patti Morrow, principal of
Given the absence of any threat to the ing enhancement of a profession, giving
Juxtapose Interior Design
public interest, the only fair conclusion that government-imposed advantages to a small
in Concord, New Hamp-
can be drawn is that a small group of indus- sub-section of the profession. They should
shire, is the founder and
try insiders are pushing for regulation in or- consider adoption of a law only if the public
director of Live Free and
der to eliminate much of their competition. health, welfare or safety compels it, which
Design! an organization
In his veto message, Governor Daniels of in the case of interior design, it clearly
of interior designers that
Indiana stated, “government must . . . avoid does not. Regulation is being proposed in
spearheaded the defeat of
limiting competition in occupations where the name of professionalization, but it re-
NH legislation in 2007.
no signifi cant public health or safety con- ally amounts to cartelization [see George F.
Patti is also part of the ad-
cerns are involved.” Will’s Washington Post article “Wallpapering
junct faculty of the interior
Why are title acts objectionable? with Red Tape”].
design program at the New
This is the Trojan horse of design regula- What changes, if any, are evident so far
Hampshire Institute of Art
tion. Once a foot in the door has been es- in those states since enactment?
in Manchester.
tablished through enactment of a seemingly Research has shown that states with prac-
innocuous title act, the acknowledged goal tice laws have a higher number of complaints
For more information:
of the pro-regulation cartel is to come back than those with no regulation [see “Design-
Live Free and Design!
in a few years and expand the title act into a ing Cartels” by Dick Carpenter, Ph.D.].
91 Reserve Place
full-blown practice act. Witness the case in What is being done to stop regulation?
Concord, NH 03301
New Hampshire – after the defeat of a prac- For the fi rst time in the 30-year-push for
E-mail: livefreedesign@yahoo.com
tice act, the regulation proponents wrote, regulation, a cohesive national network is in
Web site: www.livefreeanddesign.org
“We may want to begin with a title act and place to resist and repeal legislation. Grass-

6n Design Trade Magazine
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