Arkansas Legislature

Victory For Smaller Government on Interior Design Board

We struck a small blow for smaller government Monday morning in the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, when we passed Senator Percy Malone’s SB 827 out of committee. This bill will combine three agencies into one. More particularly, the bill will transfer the State Board of Registered Interior Designers and the State Board of Landscape Architects to a (larger) State Board of Architects.

I have been concerned about Arkansas’ interior design registry for some time now. It is not a proper (or especially efficient) function of state government to register interior designers, and the establishment of similar bodies in other states have been the first step to licensing laws—which have then made the unlicensed practice of interior design a crime that leads to jail time. I think that is just wrong; if you agree, you’ll enjoy the following video:

The lobby to make interior designers a legally regulated occupation won’t like the video, especially the part which notes that President Obama’s Oval Office interior designer is unlicensed.

We were temporarily successful in blocking funding for the interior design registry earlier this year. However, a slick parliamentary maneuver by Rep. Barry Hyde a few weeks later allowed a revote on the board’s funding while preventing any discussion of the bill’s merits by the board’s critics—a revote that proved successful.

However, a contemporaneous agreement to merge the three boards into one was reached behind the scenes; that agreement is contained in SB 827, which shrinks that board’s power and makes it much more unlikely that we will ever make unlicensed designing a criminal offense in Arkansas.

I look forward to carrying Senator Malone’s bill on the House floor tomorrow. I know of no organized opposition to it; its passage is very likely, and it will protect consumer freedom and lower prices in Arkansas.

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