We need to report that HB 590 the Interior Design Profession Act passed out of the House Regulatory Reform Committee yesterday afternoon. As we have been informing you over the last couple of weeks, the bill carves out a piece of traditional architectural practice for the benefit of NCIDQ certified interior designers.
AIA has had a long-standing policy against the adoption of practice acts for interior designers. As such, AIA North Carolina is bound to this policy and has made our position very clear to the sponsor of the bill and the Committee members.
What's the Process from Here
The bill must make a stop in the House Finance Committee since it has a fee provision for the new interior designer registration. Additionally it adds an unfunded mandate for the Department of Insurance to administer the new licensees. DOI has already commented that they will not take a position on the life/safety implications of the bill; however, they oppose the measure without funding for their new supervisory duties over interior designers.
Typically the Finance Committee does not delve into the policy implications, but looks mostly at the financial implications for the state on bills before the committee. We don't expect any different treatment for HB 590, so we are prepared for this bill to move to the full House for a vote next week sometime.
This bill only gets stopped or significantly amended if legislators hear from you now! Every House member needs to be contacted and educated about this bill.
Here's a link on how to find your House member:
Better Yet, Visit a Legislator...PLEASE!
One thing that has been made very clear during the process so far on HB 590. It's that your average legislator has absolutely no clue how the building industry actually works. The fault for this can be laid squarely at our own feet. It's more critical than ever that architects in North Carolina get out of their offices and go visit your representatives.
Our issues are too complex to only convey in writing or a short phone call. We're not saying don't do that, but we all need to personally engage our House and Senate members face to face.
Mobilizing a Raleigh Drive In
Our number 1 priority right now is to try and stop the bill in the House. We desperately need members to come to Raleigh next week - either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday - and walk the halls of the Legislature for a big education exercise.
Our Advocacy Director, Richard Alsop, AIA will be manning the AIA offices at the Center for Architecture & Design to coordinate this effort. Please send Richard an email if you're willing and able to lend your efforts to this critical activity.
Richard Alsop, AIA
Who Are Our Allies
This bill not only affects the practice of architecture. It will have a significant effect on the entire building industry. To date the Carolinas Associated General Contractors, the Professional Engineers of North Carolina and American Counil of Engineering Companies, North Carolina have come out in opposition to the current version of HB 590.
We want to highlight that HB 590 has the effect of putting an interior designer in the lead designer role for interior fit up projects where no architect is required because of the new sign and seal authority given to IDs. That means all engineering documents will be coordinated by the interior designer. This should be of grave concern to your engineering partners.
We suggest trying to coordinate your legislative visits with some of your engineering consultants.
Is There a Compromise?
One of the things ASID has been claiming is that all the states around us in the south have the authority that HB 590 is trying to grant here in North Carolina. Please know that only Florida and Louisiana have the practice scope that HB 590 contains; and there is a move in the Florida Legislature this year to repeal that practice authority. All other states in the country with some form of ID registration, 21 total, only grant title protection to certified interior designers - not practice protection.
So is there a compromise? Sure, as with the 21 other states that have negotiated some ID registration, AIA would remove its opposition to the bill if the measure only addressed title protection versus practice protection. AIA would also welcome an interim study of the issue so lawmakers could actually spend some time exploring the life/safety issues inherent with code compliance and building plan approval.
What Do You Need to Know
We have added a number of resources for you to view that will inform you about the AIA's position on interior designer licensing:
Why Can't I Just Send a Template Letter?
Legislators have gotten hip to that trick. They almost always discount a coordinated template driven advocacy campaign.
We know all our members have strong feelings about the level of competency you have had to demonstrate to practice in this field and a good number of us have very insightful personal stories about the life/safety we provide for the built environment versus the competency of interior designers. These are the stories you need to be sharing with your legislators.
We implore all our members to take action now!