For nearly 50 years, the interior design industry has been engaging government
about issues of interest to the design field. Lobbying government officials,
however, has been a centuries-old tradition. In the 1790s, Virginia veterans of
the Continental Army hired a lobbyist to help them gain greater compensation.
Now, the practice spans a wide range of concerns and constituencies. Thriving
on elements of education and advocacy, as well as money and influence,
lobbying clearly is ingrained in the American democratic process.
Today, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) lobbies at
the state and federal levels on behalf of its members and the industry-at-large. On Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as well as in state capitals
around the country, ASID focuses on issues ranging from real estate,
infrastructure, sustainability, and resiliency, to energy efficiency, business
regulation, tax reform, and professional licensure. The organization
collaborates with its state chapters throughout the country to enact legislation
on these and other issues with the goal of providing opportunities for
designers who wish to expand their capabilities, without curbing the activities
of those who want to maintain their scope of services.
With regard to professional licensure, a core issue for many designers,
29 states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) have title
or practice acts governing interior design. Title acts allow state-qualified
practitioners to use the moniker “certified,” “licensed,” or “registered”
interior designer. Practice acts incorporate the benefits of title acts while
recognizing designers’ education, experience, and examination as a means
to legally guaranteeing them rights to submit documents in order to obtain
building permits for their scope of work on a project.
Across the spectrum, the legacy of lobbying is lengthy and it tracks closely
with the fluctuating patterns of American history, politics, and culture.
1791: The right to
lobby the government
is protected by the
First Amendment to
the U.S. Constitution,
which states “Congress
shall make no law…
right of the people
the Government for a
redress of grievances.”
1792: Seeking additional
veterans of the
Continental Army hire
William Hull, one of the
first lobbyists in the
nation, to lobby the
newly formed Congress.
Samuel Colt passes
out guns as gifts to
lawmakers and their
families in pursuit of
extending a patent.
1875: Known as the
“King of the Lobby,”
Sam Ward admits to
bribery and testifies
before Congress saying,
“I do not say that I
am proud—but I am
not ashamed—of the
by Smithsonian magazine
as a “legendary chef,
host, and raconteur,”
Ward’s motto is befitting:
“The shortest distance
between a pending bill
and a Congressman’s ‘aye’
lay through his stomach.”
1912: While campaigning for president,
Woodrow Wilson says,
“The government of
the United States is a
foster child of the special
interests. It is not allowed
to have a will of its own.”
WHAT IS LOBBYING?
Lobbying is an attempt to persuade government action. Interest groups lobby
federal, state, and local officials by providing them with information to help
curry favor in their support and corresponding votes on bills that benefit or
adversely affect their constituencies. Those with the most money and time to
devote to these activities tend to prevail. Lobbyists help the legislative process
work more effectively by providing lawmakers with facts and analysis—
accurate data and sound assessments—about a bill’s impact on relevant parties.
LOBBYING THROUGHOUT THE YEARS
Lo bby i
Read about the latest licensure lobbying and advocacy efforts on pages 30-33.