Before embattled Missouri Governor Eric Greitens finally resigned last Friday, he signed nearly 80 pieces of legislation into law — one of which was a long overdue braiding reform bill.
Previous state legislation in Missouri had required people who wanted to braid hair for profit to obtain a cosmetology license — which required the completion of 1,500 hours of training.
This requirement was time-consuming, expensive, and created an unnecessary obstacle that made using one’s knowledge and skills to earn a living more difficult. Furthermore, it mostly affected women of color, who primarily make up both the customers and the braiders.
The requirement was yet another example of the ways regulations hurt everyday Americans’ ability to provide for themselves and to pursue their own economic liberty.
However, the passage of HB 1500, which was sponsored by Republican State Representative Shamed Dogan, means that the licensing requirements have been loosened for people who wish to braid hair for profit.
HB 1500 lowered the barriers to entry into the industry — instead of costly expenses and 1,500 hours of training, state regulations now require a registration fee of $20 maximum and the viewing of a 4-6 hour video.
The removal of overly burdensome occupational licensing for hair braiding means potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs in Missouri, as people — and particularly women of color — now have the ability to take advantage of their skills to earn a living — all of which will strengthen Missouri’s economy.
Supporters of braiding reform have pointed to Mississippi as an example of how occupational licensing holds people back — and how occupational licensing reform increases economic opportunities. In 2004, the Institute for Justice won a civil rights lawsuit in Mississippi regarding the state’s braiding requirements; after Mississippi loosened its requirements, nearly 1,500 people registered with the state to braid hair. Now Missourians hope to see the same results in their own state.
Last month, Wendy Doyle, the President of the Women’s Foundation, pointed out the benefits, saying, “This legislation is a great step forward that will increase economic opportunity and wallow more women entrepreneurs to realize their full economic potential. Hair braiding is a prime example of how occupational licensing requirements can be a barrier for women seeking to start their own businesses or pursue more flexible careers. Our research has shown that easing these unnecessary and onerous regulations will benefit women and strengthen the economy, and we thank state Rep. Shamed Dogan, Sen. Andrew Koenig and others for championing this much-needed reform.”
Braiding reform has long been supported by Dogan, who represents Missouri’s 98th District: He has worked toward it for four years, since he was first elected in 2014.
— Dan Alban (@Frimp13) June 1, 2018
The above tweet is from Dan Alban, an attorney with the Institute for Justice.
During one past argument on the Missouri House floor, Dogan noted how absurd the requirement is to simply braid hair by comparing it to regulations and licenses for other professions. “[Fifteen hundred hours are] more than are required to be a police officer, and EMT, and a realtor, combined,” Dogan observed.
When put that way, it becomes more obvious than ever that many forms of occupational licensing are often protectionist scams that only hurt the American people.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.