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A bill to deregulate twenty professions including Interior Designers, is up for consideration by the House and the Senate. Backers of the measure, which repeals licensing and examination requirements, say it will boost the economy by making it easier to open small businesses. This is not true.
The outcome of deregulation for Interior Designers is simple: According to Florida code, if Interior Designers are deregulated, the only professionals allowed to do non-residential work will be Architects and Engineers. Interior Designers will not be able to obtain liability insurance to practice, and few Architects will accept responsibility for a designer's work unless they are a full-time employee.
Contrary to belief, this bill does not allow unlicensed designers to work on commercial projects. If this bill passes, it essentially ends the independent commercial Interior Design industry in the State of Florida.
What does a Registered Interior Designer do? Why should they be regulated?
Registered Interior Designers are considered experts in color as it relates to outcomes in learning and healing, but that skill is only one of the many required in the Registered Interior Designers’ professional practice. They must be proficient in the application of the Florida Building Code and the Accessibility Code (ADA); in behavioral and ergonomic analysis; in space planning with partitions, walls and doorway; in furnishings and finishes; in indoor air quality; in the planning of ceilings and lighting; on the details for and the effects of interior environments for education, healing, workspace, hospitality, and recreation. All this is important for projects used by Floridians, including more than 2.7 million Seniors, 3 million disabled over age 5, and by the 86 million visitors to Florida each year. Supporters of this bill say these safety issues will be addressed by local municipalities and code enforcement; agencies which have continually had their budgets cut by the State, increasing the likelihood of errors.
While anyone may call themselves an ”interior designer” and provide interior design for residences Registered Interior Designers do residential and other public-use projects. They are held more accountable --- to their clients, to adherence to all codes and to the State of Florida in their project work. There are 2875 Registered Interior Designers and 883 authorized businesses, paying fees of over $480,000 to the State. Deregulating Interior Design will not cut the State budget in any way.
A few more facts:
--Registered Florida Interior Designers and their businesses are responsible annually for the specification or purchase of more than $348 Million worth of goods and services for hotels, restaurants, offices, healthcare facilities, senior care facilities, education and other facilities.
--Registered Florida Interior Designers, often business owners and employers, account for more than 11,000 jobs, and more than 45,000 other jobs supporting the industry in related trades and workrooms --- all important for Florida’s economy and jobs.
--2568 students in Florida's twenty Interior Design education programs, and 2500 additional recent graduates who are working towards their license will not be allowed to take the national exam required for membership in professional organizations. Each of these students spends between $80,000 - $100,000 on tuition, and will have no reason to continue their education in Florida.
Interior Design legislation helps establish and maintain professional standards that protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public. Legal recognition achieved through licensing, registration, and certification brings uniformity to the profession, defines responsibility, and encourages excellence in the Interior Design industry.
While only 3 States, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico license designers, 26 other states believe the health, safety and welfare of their residents requires that Interior Designers be regulated through various means. Please help us send a message to Tallahassee that Florida deserves the same consideration.
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This bill is being pushed forward under the claim that deregulating Interior Designers will help to stimulate competition and jobs in Florida. I do not see how this is possible because you will only be allowing architects the ability to perform commercial services. This is per Florida Building Code,106.1 which restricts submissions to those design professionals identified in Chapters 471 and 481, Parts I and II of the Florida Statues. This means 2875 interior design professionals will no longer be allowed to perform work as they do today. You will be limiting my options of who to choose when needing commercial interior design services to only architects, and will be raising the cost of doing business in the State.
Alternately, you could change the Florida Building Code and Florida Statues to allow anyone to perform commercial interior design services. This option will put the health, safety and welfare of the public in danger. Interior designers are currently required to have a college education and working experience under a licensed architect or interior designer. They then must pass a minimum competency exam, the NCIDQ. Furthermore they are required to take continuing education classes including 16 hours of health, safety and welfare and two hours of advanced Florida Building code classes. This is because registered or licensed interior designers do more than color selection or decoration. They design commercial spaces using building codes, ADA codes, fire codes and other regulations. If you allow just anyone to perform commercial interior design services, how can you be assured they will be designing to the appropriate codes? The answer is you can’t, which will affect my health, safety and welfare.
As a concerned citizen and MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC, I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my concerns and urge you to do anything you can to remove Interior Design from this legislation.