2007 Regular Session

To: Business and Financial Institutions

By: Senator(s) Gollott

Senate Bill 3032



     SECTION 1.  (1)  This act shall be known as the "Registration of Interior Designers Act."

     (2)  The purpose of this legislation is to safeguard public health and life safety, to promote the public welfare by improving the quality of human environmental design, and to limit the practice of interior design to those persons having specific design education, experience and examination as defined in this act.

     SECTION 2.  The following words and phrases shall have the meanings set forth in this section, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

          (a)  "Registered interior designer" means a person registered under this act who is qualified by education, experience and examination to affect the function, safety and quality of interior spaces and who renders or offers to render interior design services.

          (b)  "Interior design" means designs, consultations, studies, drawings, specifications, and the administration of design construction contracts relating to nonstructural interior elements of a building or structure.  The term includes, but is not limited to, space planning, finishes, furnishings, and the design for fabrication of nonstructural or nonseismic elements within and surrounding interior spaces of a building or space.  Specifically excluded from the term is the design of or responsibility for architectural and engineering work, except for specifications for fixtures and their location within interior spaces; and the construction of structural, mechanical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, electrical or vertical transportation systems, fire-rated vertical shafts in multistory structures, fire-related protection of structural elements, smoke evacuation and compartmentalization, sprinkler systems, and emergency alarm systems.

          (c)  "Board" means the Mississippi State Board of Interior Designers created under this act.

          (d)  "License" means a certificate granted by the board authorizing the holder thereof to practice interior design as a design professional.

          (e)  "Diversified and appropriate interior design experience" means the practice of those skills and tasks as contemplated by the definition of "interior design."

          (f)  "Nonstructural or nonseismic" means interior elements or components that are not load-bearing or do not assist in the seismic design and do not require design computations for a building’s structure.  Common nonstructural elements or components include, but are not limited to, ceiling and partition systems.  These elements employ normal and typical bracing conventions and are not part of the structural integrity of the building.

          (g)  "Responsible supervisory control" is the direct responsibility of a registered interior designer of the work and the decision-making process, i.e., to review, enforce and control compliance with all design criteria and life safety requirements. Each location designated for the practice of interior design must have at that location a registered interior designer who has regulatory responsibility for the interior design work at that location.

     SECTION 3.  No person shall practice interior design in this state or use the title "registered interior designer" or any variation thereof on any sign, title, card or device to indicate that such person is practicing interior design or is a "registered interior designer," unless the person has secured from the board a license to practice as a registered interior designer in the manner and in compliance with the provisions of this act.  Every holder of a current registration shall display it in a conspicuous place in his principal office or place of employment.

     SECTION 4.  (1)  A "registered interior designer" is a person registered to practice interior design in this state as provided in this act.

     (2)  Only individuals registered under this act may render interior design services.  No person shall be identified as a "registered interior designer" or any variation thereof who is not registered by this state.

     (3)  Registration requires compliance with the requirements of applicable building codes, fire codes and local regulations and defines minimum requirements for safe practice.  It is also the intent of these laws to prohibit any person who is not registered or who falls below minimum competency or who otherwise presents a danger to the public from practicing in this state.

     (4)  Registration shall be renewed biannually.

     SECTION 5.  (1)  The board shall receive applications for registration as a registered interior designer on forms prescribed and furnished by the board.  Upon receipt of an application, the board may approve same, providing the applicant meets the following requirements:

          (a)  The applicant must have a degree in interior design from a program approved and accredited by the Council for Interior Design or holds a bachelor's degree in interior design from an approved college or university approved by the board.  There will be a five-year grace period beginning on July 1, 2007, during which time applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in interior design from a college or university need not register under this act.

          (b)  (i)  The applicant must have been enrolled for a minimum of two (2) years in, and have completed all requirements of a practical work internship development program that will be prepared, adopted and approved by the board and must have received from the board a certification that the applicant has met or exceeded the work internship requirements.  The work internship development program shall include, but not be limited to, the following subjects:

                   1.  Design and construction documents;

                   2.  Construction administration;

                   3.  Office management; and

                   4.  Related special activities.

              (ii)  If the applicant can provide sufficient and satisfactory evidence that he or she is unable to obtain the work internship development program certification, the board may accept in lieu thereof certification by the applicant that he or she has completed not less than three (3) continuous years of being engaged in the practice of interior design under the supervision of a licensed architect or registered interior designer.  Such certification shall be on such terms, conditions and requirements as the board may establish.

          (c)  The applicant must have passed any specific national examination designated by the board.

          (d)  (i)  The applicant must exhibit to the board his good standing in the profession and his moral character.  Any of the following acts shall preclude an applicant's eligibility as a candidate for registration:

                   1.  Conviction by any court for commission of any felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.

                   2.  Conviction by any court of a misdemeanor involving fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

                   3.  Misstatement of misrepresentation of fact by the applicant in connection with the applicant’s application for registration in this state or another jurisdiction.

                   4.  Violation of any of the rules of conduct required of applicants or interior designers as adopted by board;

                   5.  Practicing interior design, or representing one's self as capable of practicing interior design, in this state in violation of this act.

              (ii)  The board may admit an applicant otherwise precluded from consideration because of the prohibitions imposed in this paragraph if the board determines that the applicant has shown clear and convincing evidence of rehabilitation and reform.  Such decision is in the sole discretion of the board and upon such terms, conditions and evidence as the board may require.

          (e)  An applicant who has passed the specific national examination designated by the board before January 1, 2007, shall be eligible to apply for registration as a registered interior designer without completing the work internship requirements set forth in paragraph (b) of this subsection.

     (2)  The board shall adopt rules and regulations for the eligibility, examination and registration of applicants desiring to practice interior design in accordance with this section and may amend, modify or repeal such rules and regulations.

     (3)  The board may require that the applicant appear before the board for a personal interview.

     SECTION 6.  The board shall register any person who applies for registration and remits the application and initial fees within three (3) years after the effective date of this act regardless of whether the person meets the requirement of Section 5 of this act, provided that the applicant:

          (a)  (i)  Possesses ten (10) years of continuous experience within the past fourteen (14) years as an interior designer and holds an interior design degree; and

              (ii)  Has completed twenty-four (24) hours of board-approved continuing education classes relating to building and barrier-free codes, and health, safety and welfare concerns, which shall be in addition to any other continuing education the board may require for registered interior designer; or

          (b)  (i)  Possesses fifteen (15) years of continuous experience within the past eighteen (18) years as an interior designer or a combination of experience and education which totals fifteen (15) years; and

              (ii)  Has completed thirty-two (32) hours of board-approved continuing education classes relating to building and barrier-free codes, and health, safety and welfare concerns, which shall be in addition to any other continuing education the board may require for registered interior designers.

     SECTION 7.  (1)  There is hereby ctreated the State Board of Interior Designers.  The board shall consist of five (5) members appointed by the Governor.  Three (3) members shall be from the Mississippi Districts of the American Society of Interior Designers and two (2) members shall be from the Delta Regional Chapter of International Interior Design Association.  At least three (3) times the number of persons to be appointed shall be nominated from each group.  The five (5) initial appointments to the committee shall be for terms of one (1), two (2), three (3), four (4) and five (5) years, with the term of each initial appointee to be in the discretion of the Governor.  Each person who is initially appointed to the committee shall meet the qualifications set forth in Section 5 of this act.  Appointments made after the initial appointments shall be for terms of five (5) years and shall be limited to those nominated persons who are also registered interior designers.  Each member of the committee shall hold office until the appointment and qualification of his successor.  Vacancies occurring before the expiration of the term shall be filled by appointment in like manner for the unexpired term.  The Governor may remove any of the members of the advisory committee for inefficiency, neglect of duty or dishonorable conduct.

     (2)  Each member of the committee shall be entitled to receive a per diem in such amounts as shall be set by the board, but not to exceed the amount provided for in Section 25-3-69, and shall be reimbursed for expenses under the provisions of Section 25-3-41 that are incurred in the actual performances of duties.

     (3)  Before entering upon the discharge of his duties, each member of the committee shall take an oath of office and file it with the Secretary of State.  The committee shall elect at the first meeting of every calendar year from among its members, a chairman and a secretary to hold office for one (1) year.

     SECTION 8.  (1)  The board shall require that every registered interior designer pay a biennial registration renewal fee in an amount set by the board.  The renewal fee shall be due and payable on the first day of January of each year in which the fee is required to be paid and shall become delinquent after the thirty-first day of January of such year.  If the renewal fee is not paid before it becomes delinquent, a penalty fee shall be assessed in an amount per month as set by the board.

     (2)  If the renewal fee and penalty are not paid before the first day of June in the year in which they become due, the registered interior designer's certificate of registration shall be suspended.  Except as provided in Section 15 (20) of this act, the certificate may be reinstated upon the payment of the renewal fee, the penalty fees and a reinstatement fee as set by the board, and such other proof of the registered interior designer's qualifications as may be required in the discretion of the board.

     (3)  The board shall send a receipt and certificate of registration to each registered interior designer promptly upon payment of the renewal fee.

     SECTION 9.  Each registered interior designer shall obtain a seal as prescribed by the board.  Any interior design construction documents, which may include drawings, plans, specifications, or reports prepared or issued by the registered interior designer and being filed for public record with any jurisdiction or local building department for the purposes of obtaining a building permit shall bear the signature and seal of the registered interior designer who prepared or approved the document and the date on which they were sealed.  The seal shall be evidence of the authenticity of the document.  Interior design construction documents bearing the seal of a registered interior designer shall be accepted for filing by the appropriate jurisdiction.

     SECTION 10.  Any interior designer residing outside this state may obtain a certificate to practice in the State of Mississippi by complying with Section 5 of this act.  The board shall have the further right to exercise its discretion as to whether a nonresident interior designer shall be issued a certification of registration notwithstanding that the nonresident interior designer may be otherwise qualified under this act.

     SECTION 11.  The board shall not issue a temporary certificate of registration to practice interior design.

     SECTION 12.  Each registered interior designer shall be required to meet the continuing education requirements as set forth by the board.

     SECTION 13.  The board shall set forth and regulate the conduct and professional ethics of those registered under this act.

     SECTION 14.  (1)  This act shall not apply to:

          (a)  Licensed architects or engineers registered under applicable state laws, provided that such architects or engineers shall not refer to themselves as registered interior designers unless registered as such under this act.

          (b)  Any employees of a retail establishment regarding interior decoration or furnishings on the premises of the retail establishment or in the furtherance of a retail sale or prospective retail sale, provided that such persons shall not refer to themselves as registered interior designers unless registered as such under this act.

          (c)  Any persons who provide decorative services or assistance in selection of surface materials, window treatments, wall coverings, paint, floor coverings, surface-mounted fixtures, and loose furnishings, provided that such persons shall not refer to themselves as registered interior designers unless registered as such under this act.

     (2)  The term "interior designer" may be used as long as there is no reference to the terms "certified," "licensed" or "registered" in the same document, advertisement or publication that contains the term "interior designer."

     SECTION 15.  (1)  Except as otherwise provided in Section 15(20) of this act, the board shall have the power to revoke, suspend or annul the registration of a registered interior designer or reprimand, censure or otherwise discipline a registered interior designer.

     (2)  The board, upon satisfactory proof and in accordance with the provisions of this act, may take disciplinary action against any registered interior designer for any of the following reasons:

          (a)  Violating any of the provisions of this act, or the rules, regulations or standards of ethics or conduct duly adopted and promulgated by the board pertaining to the practice of interior design.

          (b)  Committing fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in obtaining a certificate of registration.

          (c)  Committing gross negligence, malpractice, incompetence or misconduct in the practice of interior design.

          (d)  Committing any professional misconduct, as defined by the board through bylaws, rules and regulations and standards of conduct and ethics, provided that professional misconduct shall not include bidding on contracts for a price.

          (e)  Practicing or offering to practice interior design under an expired registration or while under suspension or revocation of a registration unless the suspension or revocation is abated through probation.

          (f)  Practicing interior design under an assumed or fictitious name.

          (g)  Being convicted by any court of a felony.

          (h)  Willfully misleading or defrauding any person employing him or her as a registered interior designer by any artifice or false statement.

          (i)  Having any undisclosed financial or personal interest which compromises his or her obligation to a specific client.

          (j)  Obtaining a certificate by fraud or deceit.

          (k)  Violating any of the provisions of this act.

          (l)  Noncompliance with a child support order.

     (3)  Any person may prefer charges against any other person for committing any of the acts set forth in subsection (2) of this section.  Such charges need not be sworn to, may be made upon  actual knowledge, or upon information and belief, and shall be filed with the board.

     (4)  The board shall investigate all charges filed with it and, upon finding reasonable cause to believe that the charges are not frivolous, unfounded or filed in bad faith, may, in its discretion, cause a hearing to be held, at a time and place fixed by the board, regarding the charges and may compel the accused by subpoena to appear before the board to respond to said charges.

     (5)  No disciplinary action may be taken under this act until the accused has been furnished with both a statement of the charges against him and notice of the time and place of the hearing, which shall be personally served on the accused or mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known business or residence address of the accused not less than thirty (30) days before the date fixed for the hearing.

     (6)  At any hearing held under the provisions of this section, the board shall have the power to subpoena witnesses and compel their attendance and require the production of any books, paper or documents.  The hearing shall be conducted before the full board with the president of the board serving as the presiding officer.  Counsel for the board shall present all evidence relating to the charges.  All evidence shall be presented under oath, which may be administered by any member of the board, and thereafter the proceedings may, if necessary, be transcribed in full by a court reporter and filed as part of the record in the case.  Copies of the transcription may be provided to any party to the proceedings at a cost to be fixed by the board.

     (7)  All witnesses who shall be subpoenaed and who shall appear in any proceedings before the board shall receive the same fee and mileage as allowed by law in judicial civil proceedings and all such fees shall be taxed as part of the costs of the case.

     (8)  In any proceedings before the board in which any witness shall fail or refuse to attend upon subpoena issued by the board, shall refuse to testify or shall refuse to produce any books and papers, the production of which is called for by the subpoena, the attendance of such witness and the giving of his testimony and the production of the books and papers, shall be enforced by any court of competent jurisdiction of this state in the manner provided for the enforcement of attendance and testimony of witnesses in civil cases in the courts of this state.

     (9)  The accused shall have the right to be present at the hearing in person, by counsel or other representative, or both.  The accused shall have the right to present evidence and to examine and cross-examine all witnesses.  The board may continue or recess the hearing as may be necessary.

     (10)  At the conclusion of the hearing, the board may either decide the issue at the time or take the case under advisement for further deliberation.  The board shall render its decision not more than forty-five (45) days after the close of the hearing, and shall forward to the last known business or residence address of the accused by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, a written statement of the decision of the board.

     (11)  If a majority of the board finds the accused guilty of the charges filed, the board may:

          (a)  Issue a public or private reprimand;

          (b)  Suspend or revoke the registration of the accused, if the accused is a registrant;

          (c)  In lieu of or in addition to such reprimand, suspension or revocation, assess and levy upon the guilty party an administrative fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for each violation.

     (12)  An administrative fine assessed and levied under this section shall be paid to the board upon the expiration of the period allowed for appeal of such penalties under this section, or may be paid sooner if the guilty party elects.  Money collected by the board under this section shall be deposited into a special fund, which is created in the State Treasury.  Monies in the special fund shall be disbursed by the Department of Finance and Administration, in the discretion of the State Board of Interior Designers, to offset the expenses of administering the provisions of the "Registration of Interior Designers Act."  Unexpended amounts remaining in the special fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund, and any interest earned on amounts in the special fund shall be deposited to the credit of the special fund.

     (13)  When payment of an administrative fine assessed and levied by the board under this section is not paid when due, the board shall have the power to institute and maintain proceedings in its name for enforcement of payment in the chancery court of the county of the residence of the guilty party and if the guilty party be a nonresident of the State of Mississippi, such proceedings shall be in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi.

     (14)  When the board has taken a disciplinary action under this section, the board may, in its discretion, stay such action and place the guilty party on probation for a period not to exceed one (1) year, upon the condition that the guilty party shall not further violate either the law of the State of Mississippi pertaining to the practice of interior design or the rules and regulations, or standards of conduct and ethics promulgated by the board.

     (15)  The board, in its discretion, may assess and tax any part of all costs of any disciplinary proceedings conducted under this section against the accused, if the accused is found guilty of the charges.

     (16)  The power and authority of the board to assess and levy the administrative fines provided for in this section shall not be affected or diminished by any other proceedings, civil or criminal, concerning the same violation or violations.

     (17)  The board, for sufficient cause, may reissue a revoked registration whenever a majority of the board members vote to do so, but in no event shall a revoked registration be issued within two (2) years of the revocation.  A new license of registration required to replace a revoked, lost, mutilated or destroyed license may be issued, subject to the rules of the board, for a charge not to exceed Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00).

     (18)  The board may direct the advisory committee to review and investigate any charges brought against any registered interior designer under this chapter and to hold the hearings provided for in this section and to make findings of that fact and recommendations to the board concerning the disposition of such charges.

     (19)  Nothing herein contained shall preclude the board or advisory committee from initiating proceedings in any case.  The advisory committee shall furnish legal advice and assistance to the board whenever such service is requested.

     (20)  If a person who holds a certificate of registration under this act is subject to a court order to pay child support, his certificate of registration shall be suspended.  The procedures pertaining to, including the reinstatement and payment of any fees therefor, of a registration that has been suspended for noncompliance with a child support order shall be governed by the provisions of Section 93-11-151 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972.  If there is any conflict between any provision of this act and any provisions of Sections 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, the provisions of the latter shall control.

     SECTION 16. (1)  It shall be a misdemeanor for any person to:

          (a)  Present himself as a registered interior designer unless duly certified and registered under this act.

          (b)  Present as his own the certificate of registration of another.

          (c)  Give false or forged evidence to the board or a member thereof in obtaining a certificate of registration.

          (d)  Falsely impersonate any other practitioner of like or different name.

          (e)  Use or attempt to use a certificate of registration that has been revoked.

          (f)  Otherwise violate any of the provisions of this act.

     (2)  Any person who is convicted of a misdemeanor as described in subsection (1) shall be punished by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisonment for not more than one (1) year in the county jail, or both.

     (3)  If any person violates any of the provisions of this act, the secretary of the board, upon direction of a majority of the board, acting through an attorney employed by the board, shall apply in any chancery court of competent jurisdiction for an injunction of temporary restraining order pursuant to the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure enjoining such violation or for an order enforcing compliance with the provisions of this act.  If at such hearing, it is established that such person has violated or is violating this act the court, in addition to enjoining such violation or enforcing compliance with this act, may award all costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to the board.  In the case of a violation of an order issued under this subsection (3), the court may punish the offender for contempt of court and shall fine such offender a sum of not less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) per offense.  Each day of such violation shall constitute a distinct and separate offense.

     SECTION 17.  All courts of competent jurisdiction within the State of Mississippi are hereby empowered to hear, try and determine violations of the act without indictment and to impose in full the punishment of fines and imprisonment herein prescribed.  All violations of this act, when reported to the board and duly substantiated by affidavits or other satisfactory evidence, shall be investigated by it, and if the report is found to be true and the evidence substantiated, the board shall report such violations to the Attorney General and request prompt prosecution.

     SECTION 18.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.