ID Legislation In Texas

Interior Design Legislation As It Relates To ASID Members In Texas

A Message from the 2008-2009 Texas Chapter Board [distributed to Practitioner Members via email on March 27, 2009]

At the beginning of March, ASID Headquarters sent out a letter and an accompanying email from current Society President, Bruce Brigham, FASID, clarifying the Society’s stance on Interior Design [ID] legislation across the country. They have also posted this same information on the Legislation & Advocacy page of the Society’s website, asid.org.

Several members have expressed confusion and concern as they felt that these statements were somewhat coming out of the blue. Therefore, the Texas Chapter Board felt that it was important to provide our members with a bit of background information, elaborating on how these statements fit in with what is currently happening with ID legislation in the state of Texas. (Note: This statement was also emailed out to Practitioner members at the end of March.)

QUICK SUMMARY

Undeniable fact: The type of wording present in the current Texas ID Title Act has already been legally struck down and subsequently altered in New Mexico, and it will most likely have to be revised in Connecticut and Oklahoma as well. When attacked, the language is not being upheld in courts of law.

TERMS TO UNDERSTAND

“Naked” ID Title Act: One that restricts the title of “Interior Designer.” This is “old” style of ID Title Act (and the one currently in place in Texas since 1991).

“Qualified” ID Title Act: One that restricts the title of “Registered Interior Designer,” “Certified Interior Designer,” or “Licensed Interior Designer.” [Acronyms: RID, CID & LID, respectively.] This is the “new” style of ID Title Act, and several states have this in place already.

Tip: To understand which states currently have what kind of ID legislation, how long each have been in place, and what regulatory boards oversee them, go here to visit the State Licensing Regulations page on the Society’s website.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Over the past few years, “naked” ID Title Acts have been under attack by the Institute of Justice [IJ – www.ij.org]. According to their website, IJ is a “501(c)(3) organization” that is the “nation’s only libertarian public interest law firm.” They “engage in cutting-edge litigation and advocacy both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion on behalf of individuals whose most basic rights are denied by the government.” Therefore, they file a wide variety of lawsuit types across the country on behalf of individuals (or groups of individuals) with corresponding grievances. They are very well funded through a combination of large endowments and small donations from like-minded people. To get a flavor of all that they are for/against, visit their extensive website.

The basis of the IJ lawsuits against the “naked” ID Title Acts is that they are a violation of free speech rights protected by the First Amendment. In other words, some individuals feel that their rights are being violated because they want to call themselves Interior Designers and are not registered in those respective states. IJ frequently refers to the professional organization of ASID as a “cartel,” preventing others from making a living in the interior design industry.

IJ has filed lawsuits against the boards regulating ID in the states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Connecticut. New Mexico’s regulatory board settled the lawsuit by amending their original “naked” Title Act to that of a “qualified” one – specifically, that of “Licensed Interior Designer.”

IJ has been organizing many rallies in Florida lately and seem to be on the verge of filing suit against the board that regulates their Interior Designers. Florida has a Practice Act, but its language is that of a “naked” Title Act – i.e., restricting the title of “Interior Designer.”

According to the IJ website, Clark Neily, the IJ lawyer heading up the Texas ID lawsuit, “received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, where he was Chief Articles Editor of the Texas Law Review.” Neily also sits on the Board of the Interior Design Protection Council [IDPC - www.idpcinfo.org].

According to their website, IDPC is a “501(c)6 non-profit business league” that is “passionately committed to preventing anti-competitive, unnecessary interior design and interior decorating regulation in the United States.” Some of their members are Allied ASID Members (or former Allied ASID Members). If you are an Allied Member, then you probably have received one of their frequent emails attacking ASID, also referring to ASID as a “cartel.” Along with IJ, they feel that ID legislation is anti-competitive and unconstitutional.

WHAT IS CURRENTLY HAPPENING IN TEXAS?

On May 9, 2007, IJ filed suit against the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners [TBAE – www.tbae.state.tx.us], the multi-profession regulatory agency that oversees the examination, registration, and professional regulation of Architects, Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects in Texas. IJ filed this suit on behalf of four Texas residents who want to challenge the current “naked” ID Title Act (in place since 1991) as a violation of free speech rights protected by the First Amendment. These people feel that their rights are being violated because they want to call themselves Interior Designers but are not registered as Interior Designers in Texas.

The Texas Association for Interior Design [TAID – www.supporttaid.org] – the association representing all of the business and legislative aspects of the interior design industry in Texas that anyone supporting their goals may join – wanted to introduce ID Practice Act legislation this Texas legislative session. However, TBAE needed to deal with the IJ lawsuit that has been pending since May 9, 2007. Therefore, TBAE introduced House Bill 1484 (through Rep. Jim Pitts), which would – just like in New Mexico – amend the original “naked” Title Act to that of a “qualified” one – in this case, that of “Registered Interior Designer” or “Licensed Interior Designer.” [Note: TAID’s lobbyist advised both TAID and TBAE that if two different bills for ID legislation went through the legislature at the same time, it would confuse legislators and quite possibly cause both bills to fail. Therefore, it was determined that the TBAE bill (amending the current ID Title Act) would have to take precedence over the TAID bill (a Practice Act) during this legislative session.]

Tip: To access, read and follow House Bill 1484 (or identical companion bill SB 1698, introduced through Sen. Troy Fraser), just visit www.legis.state.tx.us. In the “Search Legislation” section, choose the “Bill Number” button, type “HB 1484” in the available field, and click on the “Go” button.

UPDATE ALERT: [posted May 14, 2009] Governor Rick Perry signed bill HB 1484 into law on May 12, 2009, and it became effective immediately.

BACK TO ASID’S LEGISLATIVE CLARIFICIATION

Obviously, “naked” ID Title Acts are not holding up when attacked by the well-funded IJ. Therefore, it is not necessarily prudent for ASID (or IIDA, non-affiliated individuals, etc.) to continue to promote the creation of more “naked” ID Title Acts because they are not holding up in the courts.

In ASID’s legislative statement, when it says that…

  • ASID will not support title acts that restrict the use of the title “interior designer.” We will support title acts that recognize state-qualified “certified,” “registered” or “licensed” interior designers.

…it means that ASID will not support the kind of Title Acts that will not stand up in court. They are still supporting Title Acts – just the “qualified” kind, which so far will stand up in court. Also, by stating that…

  • ASID does not restrict the practice of interior design not regulated by building code or other statute

…they are also promoting the kind of Practice Act that TAID was advocating before TBAE was forced to deal with the IJ lawsuit. [Note: The Practice Act bill that TAID had written and was going to present this legislative session exempted residential spaces. In other words, individuals who are not registered as Interior Designers in Texas would be able to practice residential interior design. Much has been said by the opposition that the Texas ID Practice Act would put these kinds of individuals out of business, but it was spelled out clearly in the bill that with the passage of this ID Practice Act, the practice of interior design would be regulated only in spaces that are governed by fire codes, ADA laws, etc. TAID plans to introduce this bill in two years at the next legislative session.]

At the ASID Chapter Presidents Forum held March 20-21 in St. Louis, Bruce Brigham, FASID, reiterated the following points that were made in the legislative statement and accompanying FAQ:

  • ASID advocates that the requirements to become a state-qualified interior designer include formal interior design education, experience and passage of the NCIDQ examination
  • ASID supports legislation that legally recognizes the interior design profession and enables all interior designers to practice to the fullest extent of their capabilities.
  • ASID will not support legislation that restricts interior design services that do not affect building codes or other statutes.
  • This policy does not affect current law.
  • At this time, ASID does not intend to pursue amendments to existing interior design statutes, although should a jurisdiction or the interior design legislative coalition within a jurisdiction seek to amend an existing interior design law, ASID will evaluate that initiative using this policy.
  • ASID will evaluate each individual piece of legislation to see if it meshes with ASID legislative policies.

Since there is not one single piece of ID legislation in one state that is the same as one in another state (i.e., the current Florida ID Practice Act is not the same as the current Nevada ID Practice Act, etc.), ASID cannot make blanket statements about what they will support and what they will not support. It will come down to a state-by-state, new legislation-by-new legislation evaluation.

IN CONCLUSION

As you can see, ID legislation is a complex issue involving many factors and entities, which is the reason we felt it necessary to communicate this information directly with Texas Chapter members. If you would like to ask questions or provide comments, you may join us at a Texas Chapter quarterly Board meeting. Check the Chapter Calendar for details. Please note that you must be sure to notify Chapter Administrator, Pat Gallagher [214.748.1541 | txasid@airmail.net], that you will be in attendance. Thank you, and we hope that this information helped to shed some light on this confusing, yet very important, subject.

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ASID Texas Chapter
1025 N Stemmons Freeway
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Dallas, TX 75207-3700
Toll Free: (214) 748-1541
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