House bill would cut barber licensing requirement

January 19, 2012

Barbers and cosmetologists would no longer need to be licensed under a bill being considered in the Indiana General Assembly.

House Bill 1006, introduced by Rep. David Wolkins, R-Kosciusko, is set to be heard by the Employment Labor and Pensions Committee at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

The bill also exempts dieticians, hearing aid dealers, private investigators and security guards from licensing requirements.

Wolkins, who is sponsoring the bill, said the move to eliminate the requirements sprung from the General Assembly’s creation of the Regulated Occupations Evaluation Committee. Lawmakers established it to assess all licenses, and the bill is the committee’s recommendation. The committee is chaired by John Graham, dean of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“Regulations are killing small business,” Wolkins said.

Wolkins said changes to the bill likely will be recommended. In the cosmetology industry, for instance, about 25 different licenses are available. Instead of eliminating licensing altogether, the number may be narrowed, he said.

Every state but Alabama requires barbers and cosmetologists to be licensed. Alabama lets individual counties make the decision, according to the National Association of Barber Boards of America in Arkadelphia, Ark.

The cosmetology industry is speaking out loudly against the Indiana proposal and has launched an online petition opposing it, citing safety and health issues that may arise without regulation.

Greg Kenny Sr., who operates Kenny’s Academy of Barbering in Indianapolis, said the bill would put him out of business because there no longer would be a need for beauty and barbering schools.

“You’re using razors and sharp instruments,” he said. “With all the noise about health and safety, it’s crazy that anybody could open a barber shop and disseminate diseases throughout the community.”

Barbers and beauticians currently need 1,500 hours of training before they can take an exam to be licensed. At Kenny’s Academy, the cost of schooling runs about $6,950. The academy graduates between 60 and 80 students annually.

Licenses, which cost $40 on top of a $50 application fee, need to be renewed every four years. Renewals also run $40. Opponents of the bill argue that regulation doesn’t cost the state money because it operates from the fees.

The industry is regulated by the State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners within the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. The agency licenses 43 professions, from dentists to hypnotists to manufactured home installers.

A spokeswoman for the State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners declined to answer questions about the bill and referred inquiries to a government services liaison.

Brenda Barrett, who operates Jack’s Barber Shop on the second floor of City Market, has been cutting hair for 27 years. She said she’d be surprised if the bill passed but is concerned nonetheless.

Instead of less regulation, she thinks the profession needs even more. A state inspector has been to her shop just once since she opened it five years ago, Barrett said.

“It would be a public safety issue,” she said, if the bill passes. “It would create more harm than anything.”


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