Anti-competitive bill would create burden, add costs
By Adrienne Montare
Special to Statehouse Report
JAN. 27, 2012 – In an effort to directly compete with architects and to differentiate themselves from other interior designers, a small group of interior designers in South Carolina has crafted a bill that would allow them to provide services far beyond that which is allowed by South Carolina law and those they are qualified to perform.
House Bill 4073 is a bill that would for the first time regulate interior designers in South Carolina — legislation that all but three states in the country have found to be unnecessary, costly and confusing to the public.
Financial burden on the citizens of South Carolina
With a state unemployment rate that still hovers around 9.5 percent and an anticipated continued slow recovery in the state’s economy, any legislation that could potentially make it more difficult for members of the design community to work and remain in business is harmful for South Carolina and its citizens. H. 4073 would prohibit and criminalize much of the work that designers currently perform, without any evidence that this legislation is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Anti-competitiveness and increased cost to SC consumers
H. 4073 is being advocated by a small segment of the interior design community seeking licensure to protect itself from competition. Numerous studies have shown that occupational licensing, especially where the public safety is not in danger, merely increases the cost to consumers by limiting the choices available to them. Given a total lack of evidence that unregulated interior design poses a threat to the public, it is no surprise that the only outcry for regulation of interior designers comes from this small segment – the interior design lobby seeking protection from their competitors.
Unnecessary government regulation
The citizens of South Carolina are already protected by an umbrella of design professionals who oversee the design and construction process – architects and engineers, along with building inspectors, fire marshals and construction code enforcement officials, all ensure that public safety is well protected. Mandating an additional license for interior designers will add nothing to the protection of the public beyond what already exists.
Endangering and confusing to the public
H. 4073 does nothing to increase consumer protection and in fact could put the public in danger if licensed interior designers coordinate the work of other design professionals without the expertise to oversee the design and construction process as a whole. This bill would lead to added regulation, increase consumer confusion and potentially provide an additional burden on the citizens of South Carolina. Licensing an occupation whose work does not affect the life safety of the public is not the responsibility of state government and in the eyes of many consumers could be viewed as fiscally irresponsible.
Adrienne Montare, AIA, LEED BD+C, is executive director of the South Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects.”
“Anti-Competive” Hey Pot meet Kettle.