Hair braiding deregulation bill weaves through Senate

Staff Report

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Senate approved a measure that would repeal regulations on natural hair braiders by a unanimous vote on Friday.

“It is an attempt to untangle some government regulations,” said sponsor Sen. Perry B. Clark, D-Louisville. “Hair braiding is a time-tested practice that has deep roots in African cultural heritage.”

The measure, known as Senate Bill 269, would remove the requirement that natural hair braiders get a cosmology license. He said natural hair braiding, as the name applies, uses no dyes or chemicals.

“Across this country, state governments have made it illegal for braiders to make money from a braiding skill unless they have first spent thousands of dollars on government-mandated cosmetology licenses and training,” Clark said. “To add insult to injury, this training never even breaches into the braiding areas.”

He said licensure was once imposed only on professionals like doctors and lawyers before citing the following statistics: Less than 5 percent of Americans needed a government license to work in the early 1950s. Now, more than 30 percent of workers have government-issued licenses.

Clark said he suspected that licensure was used to protect established businesses from competition and not the often-touted claims of promoting public health and safety.

“Research has demonstrated that occupational licensing laws, such as those governing natural hair braiders, create artificial and unnecessary barriers to entry for entrepreneurs seeking to take their first step on the economic ladder,” Clark said. “The right to earn an honest living is a central part of our nation’s promise of opportunity.”

Clark said SB 269 would provide “economic freedom for natural hair braiders.”

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, stood in support of SB 269. He said it’s an example of how government regulations can have inadvertent consequences. He said the Senate needed to spend more time “looking at ways to not make laws but repeal laws and regulations.”

SB 269 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Staff Report

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