This issue was covered in detail by Chicago Public Radio, and you can read that article here.
On March 3, Kristina Rasmussen testified before the Illinois House of Representatives Health Care Licenses Committee about hair braider licensing. She says the current licensing regulations are onerous and stand in the way job-creating entrepreneurs.
Download a copy of her testimony here (pdf).
Kristina Rasmussen, Executive Vice President,
Illinois Policy Institute
Submitted to the Illinois House of Representatives
Health Care Licenses Committee
HB 5783 Hair Braider Licensing
March 3, 2010
Chairperson Reitz, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Kristina Rasmussen, and I am Executive Vice President with the Illinois Policy Institute. We are a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to supporting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives. The Institute conducts research and analysis on a variety of matters, including fiscal policy, education, government reform, health care, and transportation. You can learn more about our organization by visiting www.IllinoisPolicy.org.
I’m here today to support the principles behind HB 5783, which would provide an avenue for hair braiders to practice their craft with less burdensome licensing requirements.
At a time when too many Illinoisans are out of work, we should not allow onerous licensing regulations to stand in the way of braiders, and other entrepreneurs, who want to work and who have customers ready and willing to pay for their services. Academics such as Morris M. Kleiner of the University of Minnesota have examined the extent to which licensing rules create an expensive barrier to entry for entrepreneurs and hurt consumers by driving up prices. On the spectrum of policy mechanisms designed to avoid harm to consumers from unfit practitioners, licensing is the bluntest and most restrictive, for both entrepreneurs and consumers. When compared to voluntary certification or mandatory registration, scholars have shown that occupational licensing as a policy is most appropriate in cases where the risk of harm to the consumer is high and the ability of the consumer to judge the quality of the service is low. Occupations like physicians or architects clearly meet these criteria. Hair braiders do not.
Unlike barbering or chemical hair treatments, hair braiding is completely non-invasive and does not involve dangerous substances or tools. Aside from requiring knowledge of basic sanitation principles, there are no appreciable health and safety concerns. Hair braiders often have been trained in the art by members of their family or their local community, and the craft has been handed down through generations. It is teachable and learnable by apprenticeship and practice, and the layperson can readily assess the quality of the braid. In short, licensing is neither appropriate nor necessary as a policy to protect consumers from the minute risks involved in hair braiding.
That said, the bill before you today is a vast improvement over the status quo. The current law that requires hair braiders to get a cosmetology license is wrong-headed and unworkable. None of the 1500 hours of education required for the cosmetology license address any subject matter relating to hair braiding. Reducing the hours of education requirement to 300 will make it easier for braiders to enter the occupation legally and to have their businesses flourish above-ground – as community stalwarts, as important sources of income for their children and extended families, and as beacons of entrepreneurship for immigrants and Americans alike.
We laud the effort to rationalize and minimize the licensing rules that apply to hair braiders, and support the bill offered by Rep. Burns.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.