Arkansas Legislature

Design Flaw

The vote to fund the Arkansas’ State Board of Registered Interior Designers took place today; fiscal conservatives won this vote (for the moment). To continue in existence, the board needs 75 of 100 votes in the House; it got 60.

This is an important but not conclusive vote; according to House Rules, the leadership can bring up budget bills for a ‘revote’ whenever they want — e.g., later today, tomorrow or anytime during the session.

Although I don’t want to speak for House leadership, I get the impression that at least some senior decision-makers are sympathetic to what I am trying to do. So maybe this vote will be conclusive. We won’t know until the session ends.

Shortly, I will try to pass ‘winding-up’ legislation that will formally end the existence of the board. I suppose if we don’t pass that, the board might continue, but without funding to pay its staff.

The vote shows what happens when one trouble-maker (me) stands up in the House well and speaks against a bad idea. Last session, when nobody spoke against the bill, we had 3 votes against funding; this year we had 30.

I understand why we have a sex offender registry, but there is no reason to have an interior designer registry. The only thing it accomplishes is to raise prices on consumers by getting government to issue a credential that many interior designers don’t use. The private sector contains many private organizations that certify interior designers, such as the National Council for Interior Design Qualification and the American Society of Interior Design, and there is no need for government to crowd out the private sector with a duplicative service.

Reason magazine described legislators’ discussion of the board at budget hearings last year, and the Institute for Justice recently released an interesting study suggesting that these boards typically have very few benefits, but large costs.

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The Arkansas Project