Design Politics 101: The Legislative Lexicon

Jan. 14, 2015
<p>There are many different types of legislative models in effect across the country. Which category does your state fall under?</p>

There are many different types of legislative models in effect across the country. Which category does your state fall under?

Title Acts, as the name suggests, regulate the use of professional titles, like “registered interior designer” or “certified interior designer.” Title acts do not require professionals to become licensed or restrict anyone from providing the services falling under a particular title, but they do prevent anyone who is not registered/certified/licensed from advertising themselves as such. In this way, title acts serve to raise public awareness about the qualifications of professional interior designers.
Practice Acts go a step further, requiring individuals to be licensed by the state in order to perform certain professional interior design services. These acts also come with title restrictions, and may even regulate general industry terminology like “interior design services” as well.
Self-certification Systems are similar to title acts, but regulatory control is placed in the hands of an independent organization rather than the government. The government has limited oversight of these systems. Currently, California is the only jurisdiction with a self-certification law.
Permitting Statutes, like the one in place in Colorado, are amendments to existing laws that allow qualified interior designers to submit plans for building permits. There is no regulatory board established, and no title considerations.br/>

Lesson 2: Not All Titles Are Created Equal… But They’re Pretty Close <

Even among states that have passed laws regulating the interior design industry, the language used to define qualified professionals may vary. The terms below mean essentially the same thing: that a professional interior designer has met all education, experience, and testing requirements and is registered with the state.

“Certified Interior Designer” is most often used in states with title acts.

Protected in: California, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Virginia

“Registered Interior Designer” appears in both title act and practice act states, and entails registration through an interior design board.

Protected in: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida, Texas

“Licensed Interior Designer” is appropriate for states with practice acts, and again entails registration through an interior design board. Currently New Mexico is the only state with legal protections for the use of this term

“Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer” is a term protected in, you guessed it, Wisconsin.

“Interior Designer” is perhaps the most contentious term to protect, with many opponents claiming it would be a violation of free speech. Currently this term is recognized in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. 

(For a quick cheat sheet on state terminology, download this guide from IIDA.)

Lesson 3: Remember Your School House Rock

I'm just a bill
Yes I'm only a bill
And I got as far as Capitol Hill
Well, now I'm stuck in committee
And I'll sit here and wait
While a few key congressmen discuss and debate.

Who can forget that sad little bill stuck on Capitol Hill?

With so many pieces of legislation brought before Congress each year, the committee system is an important way for lawmakers to conduct thorough examinations of the issues before deciding how to act.  But more often than not, bills sent to subcommittee get pushed off of the agenda indefinitely. To understand where in the process your state’s legislation might be, here are a few helpful terms to remember:

  • Bill - A proposed law introduced by a member of Congress. 
  • Standing Committee - A committee that is permanently established by House and Senate rules.  Standing committees are empowered to prepare and review legislation (as opposed to select committees, which serve only to advise Congress on a limited range of issues). 
  • Hearings - Committee meetings where testimony is taken from witnesses representing government agencies, private sector organizations and the general public.
  • Mark-Up - A subcommittee or committee meeting for the purpose of writing legislation. Once completed, the measure is ready for debate on the floor of the House or Senate. 
  • Amendment - The proposal of a member of Congress to alter the wording of a bill being considered by a subcommittee, committee, or on the House or Senate floor.  Amendments can also be offered to add or delete entire sections of a bill. 
  • Conference - A meeting between House and Senate members to reconcile differences between bills passed by their respective chambers of Congress. 
  • Act - The term for legislation that has been passed by Congress and signed into law.

(Visit AACOM, where we grabbed this handy info, for a fuller list of glossary terms and more details on the political process.)

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