Interior Design Bill

Updates and Resources

The interior design organizations, IIDA and ASID, waged an effective multi-year grassroots lobbying campaign in support of the legislation. It began by building positive relationships between interior designers and key legislators. The lead sponsors of the bill were some of the strongest deregulation advocates in the Wisconsin Legislature. It garnered bipartisan support from legislators who thought it would create job opportunities for their constituents. It was sold as an initiative that would streamline the state's regulatory process, support women-owned small businesses, and save interior design clients time and money because an architect's stamp would no longer be required on plans for commercial interior projects. Companion bills were introduced in both houses last summer – Assembly Bill 324 and Senate Bill 303. AIA Wisconsin, with the help of the AIA and NCARB, gathered information on what was happening in other states and began building a coalition of contractor, consulting engineer and fire protection organizations to fight the bill. AIA Wisconsin leaders testified against the bill at a Senate committee hearing in September. With four of the five committee members signed on as sponsors of the bill, we knew the cards were stacked against us. After an amendment was offered that removed the objections of the consulting engineers and fire protection coalition, the Wisconsin Senate approved the bill on a voice vote in late January. After being assured that the Assembly committee would not hold a hearing on the bill, effectively killing it, AIA Wisconsin learned that public notice requirements had been waived and a last-minute committee hearing on the bill was scheduled for the following morning. As luck would have it, we got the unexpected news as AIA Wisconsin leaders from across the state were preparing for meetings with state legislators as part of our annual State Capitol Day. We had over 25 meetings that afternoon, and several State Representatives on both sides of the aisle stepped up to be champions for our position and talked with their colleagues on the Assembly committee about the serious problems with the bill. The Assembly committee hearing on February 13 followed an executive session to recommend passage of legislation to extend bar hours statewide during the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. The hearing went well, with more architects testifying than interior designers. AIA Wisconsin members did a great job telling their stories and sharing their passion for architecture while outlining their serious concerns with the bill. Committee members asked a lot of good questions, with most of the tough ones directed at the interior designers.

Members from across the state showed up at the hearing to testify on behalf of AIA Wisconsin or to register in opposition to the bill. AIA Wisconsin members testifying included: Melinda Pogwizd, AIA, Katherine May, AIA, Laurie Whitney, AIA, Brad Peterson, Assoc. AIA, Andy Malanowski, AIA, Stacey Keller, AIA, and Matthew Wiedenhoeft, AIA.

At the same time, AIA Wisconsin collaborated with national AIA on an updated Action Alert to make it easy for members to contact their own State Representative one more time. This all helped to slow the momentum behind the bill. AIA Wisconsin was successful in staying in contact with Assembly leadership to make sure the bill wasn't pulled from committee for a floor vote the following week. We've learned some valuable lessons along the way. We expect the interior design bill to be introduced again next session.

Information on the interior design bill (Assembly Bill 324) that includes links to the record of committee proceedings (ROCP) and Legislative Council (LC) hearing materials, which includes copies of written testimony.

Analysis of Interior Design Legislation (July 10, 2019)

Image credits