In March, Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, threw his weight behind a bill that would remove the licensing requirements for 20 occupations, including hair braiding, ballroom dance instruction, and interior design. Faced with the eradication of its lucrative licensing regime, the interior design lobby insisted that the regulations are necessary to protect public safety.
“Do you know the color schemes that affect your salivation, your autonomic nervous system?” asked Gail Griffin, a professor at Miami Dade College’s School of Architecture and Interior Design, in an appearance before Florida’s House Appropriation Committee. “By not allowing interior designers to be specialists and focus on the things they do,” Tampa interior designer Michelle Earley informed the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee, “what you’re basically doing is contributing to 88,000 deaths every year.”
The truth is less terrifying. As the state attorney general’s office admitted in a pretrial stipulation arising from a legal challenge to the licensing law, “neither the defendants nor the state of Florida have any evidence that the unregulated practice of interior design presents any bona fide public welfare concerns.”