The Wall Street Journal this morning heaps well-deserved praise on Iowa legislators for liberating hair-braiders from the requirement to obtain expensive licenses from a state board. The licenses were unnecessary to begin with:
As with most such rules, hair-braiding laws around the country result from lobbying by beauty-shop owners who want to hobble competitors and state licensing boards that want to retain power.
Incredibly, the Iowa law forced women who merely want to help other women braid their hair to spend as much as $22,000 and 2,100 hours in training. Some cosmetology schools don’t even teach hair-braiding, which is a skill often handed down from African-American mothers to daughters.
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Licensing laws often hit people least able to afford the fees and training for occupations that shouldn’t require them. According to the Institute for Justice, the average cosmetologist is required to spend 372 days in training compared to 33 for the typical emergency medical technician.
Iowa's abolition of licensing requirement for braiding grew out of a suit brought against the state Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (bet you didn't know that one existed) by two women who wanted to earn livings by braiding hair. Aicheria Bell is single mother, while Achan Agit, a refugee from the Sudan civil war who now lives in Iowa. The Virginia-based Institute for Justice provided legal services.
The suit came to the attention of politicians and lawmakers voted to remove hair-braiding from the list of services regulated by the state cosmetology board. Republican Governor Terry Branstad fended off an attempt by the state Department of Health to create new regulations with a line-item veto.
Not only are these unnecessary regulations harmful to women who want to make money braiding, but they are harmful to the economy. Aimed at stifling competition, they do just that, which contributes to the sluggishness of our current economy.