Over the last year we've talked a lot about the fight to liberalize licensing requirements for a host of professions, including hair braiding. The problem, is that onerous state regulations make it very difficult for qualified individuals to deliver a variety of services to consumers, and that is especially true of professional hair braiders. Litigation is ongoing for the requirements currently imposed on braiding practitioners, and the result of those fights remains unclear.
Fortunately Missouri's Legislature isn't letting the licenscing fights just play out in the courts; rather, it's taking a proactive stance to these issues and is already considering legislation to resolve the hair braiding question once and for all.
Rep. Shamed Dogan, the lone African-American lawmaker on the Republican side of the aisle, said his plan to lift state regulations on African-style hair braiders could trigger the creation of jobs in minority communities if those businesses take the opportunity to expand.
Under current state law, a person needs to go through a cosmetology school and complete 1,500 hours of training in order to obtain a license to legally braid hair.
Dogan’s measure would not require hair braiders to obtain a license. Instead, they would need to register with a board and receive a brochure including information about infections and disease control.
As my colleagues and I have reiterated time and again, licensing laws should not unduly burden qualified practitioners in a field or otherwise prevent consumers from easily accessing services and care that, but for government, they could readily receive. That argument is especially easy to make when it comes to hair braiding. Incumbent interests in the cosmetology industry should not be empowered to lock out professionals who are fully qualified to serve their fellow Missourians, and for too long that has not been the case.
Kudos to the supporters of reforms like this one; hopefully we'll see some progress in this area by session's end.