The Wall Street Journal's Arian Campo-Flores reports on legislation currently pending in Florida that would abolish the occupational licensing requirements for interior designers and other harmless professions like hair braiders and ballroom dance studio operators. As the story notes, the interior design lobby is mounting an increasingly hysterical defense of its special interest perks:
They've hired Ron Book, one of the state's most influential lobbyists, to fight the bill. And they've stormed legislative hearings to warn of the mayhem that would ensue if the measure passes.
Among the scenarios they've conjured: flammable carpets sparking infernos; porous countertops spreading bacteria; jail furnishings being turned into weapons.
The thought of "someone in my position that thinks they know what they're doing because they watched HGTV for two weeks scares me," licensed interior designer Terra Sherlock said at a hearing in March….
Supporters of deregulation say these claims are little more than scare tactics. Licensed designers want one thing, says Clark Neily, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm: To choke off competition from upstart designers who lack degrees. "I've never seen a more concerted and virulent cartelization effort," says Mr. Neily.
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