The Texas state legislature passed a bill this morning that could seriously impact the profession of “lighting designer.” While most likely intended to regulate the permanent installations of architectural lighting on the interior and exterior of buildings, the language of Texas HB 2649 is vague and could be interpreted to mean theatrical installations as well (i.e. theatre, dance, music, concerts, opera, festivals, etc). One can only ask “what were they thinking?”

Authored by Texas law-maker Wayne Smith, the bill is listed as “Relating to the regulation and practice of engineering and lighting design” and reads in part as follows:

From the Texas House Bill 2649:
Sec. 1001.3011. LIGHTING DESIGN: LICENSE OR REGISTRATION REQUIRED. (a) A person may not perform or offer to perform lighting design services unless the person is: (1) licensed as an engineer under this chapter; (2) registered as an architect, landscape architect, or interior designer under Subtitle B, Title 6; or (3) licensed under Chapter 1305. (b) In this section, “lighting design services” means the preparation of plans and specifications that depict the placement and direction of illumination of mounted or installed lighting fixtures in the interior or exterior of a building, including the specification of bulbs, reflectors, lens, louvers, baffles, and other hardware.

The IALD (International Association of Lighting Designers) voiced their concern before the bill was passed, urging members to ask the Texas legislature to vote against it, stating:

“This legislation has the unintended consequence of outlawing an entire profession - architectural lighting design. The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) strongly urges all members of the Texas Legislature to drop this legislation, Texas House Bill 2649. The attached alert is attached for your consideration.

Slated for a vote on May 27, 2009, the legislation has been drafted without any input from lighting designers, and restricts the practice of lighting design to members of other professions and trades, such as architects, engineers and electricians. There are no provisions in the legislation for establishing a licensing standard for lighting designers.

The economic impact of the proposed legislation will be extensive: dozens of lighting designers practice in Texas, and hundreds of projects in the state depend on professional lighting designers for their full architectural expression.”

Now there is movement to lobby Texas governor Rick Perry for a veto to the bill. Contact information for the Governor's office.