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Mar 27, 2023 By Laura Stroik
Advocacy Spotlight: Laura Stroik, IIDA
What happens after the bill is signed: from new state board roles to shifting priorities
By Laura Stroik Mar 27, 2023
Published in

On March 19, 2022, a day after Governor Tony Evers signed the 2021 WI Act 195 into law, hundreds of interior designers across Wisconsin celebrated! The collective sigh of relief that the battle for permitting privileges with a defined scope of work was over. We knew we needed to get through rules and regulations, but we completed the hard work of passing legislation.

One of the many reasons we pursued legislation was because our profession was at risk of deregulation. Based on the new law's passage, we assumed that we would no longer have to worry. It was surprising to receive an email asking for testimony for the Joint Legislative Committee on Occupational Licenses. Based on a 2018 report, interior design registration was under review for elimination. With ASID and CIDQ at our side, IIDA WI submitted testimony against eliminating registration. We informed the Committee on the expansion of scope for Registered Interior Designers (RIDs), the voluntary nature of registration, which enhances opportunities, and the differences between RIDs and unregistered interior decorators. The biggest questions asked of our testifiers included the effect of the new law on business practices, opportunities the credential provides to small businesses, difficulties in obtaining registration, and the requirements of registration and the NCIDQ exam.

While we are likely in the clear, it is important to note that we cannot stop advocating for our profession. Passing legislation does not mean that the easy street is ahead or that registered interior designers can automatically purchase a seal for stamping drawings. There is still work to do.

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The Department of Safety and Professional Services created an Interior Design Section to the Examining Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers, Professional Land Surveyors, and Registered Interior Designers. It is the first section added to the Board in 20 years and the first all-female section. It consists of three professional interior designers and two public members, which proved tricky to find since they could not profit from interior design or related in any way.

Based on the recommendation from my State Representative, Katrina Shankland, I applied for the position. Her office heard from me frequently as we moved legislation forward. I am proud to serve on the Registered Interior Design Section and represent Central Wisconsin, and I applied with her encouragement. The application process was relatively simple, requiring letters of recommendation, a resume, and a cover letter. While I may never know with certainty, I believe my location, advocacy, and educator status had something to do with my appointment.

I will learn more as the Section progresses through the rules and regulation process. The first meeting happened in January, and the next is in April. I encourage anyone interested in learning about what is happening to attend the public meeting hosted on Zoom (more information here), and it will be the best way to stay informed as we navigate the process. I hope Wisconsin's RIDs know someone will inform them as soon as everything is in place for stamp and seal. I, for one, look forward to that day.

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