New legislation might put restrictions on hairbraiding

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Utah State Rep. Holly Richardson, R -Pleasant Grove, authored a bill that will legalize natural hair braiding without a state-issued cosmetology license. The bill was introduced in the Utah legislature’s special session a week ago.

Richardson introduced her hair braiding bill in the 2011 Third Special Session of the legislature. The bill was met with a flood of protesters who alleged that allowing un-certified hair braiding would spread disease and possibly hurt people. Some more serious concerns with the legislation affect the cosmetology industry, which requires extensive education before certification is issued.

“This bill is definitely an issue for those of us in the cosmetology business,” said Kayla Nelson, a student at Paul Mitchell School in Provo. “I’m going to spend 15 months in school to get a license that qualifies me to work. If this bill goes through, I’ll just be wasting my time and money to get a certification which the state would deem unnecessary.  I’ll be competing with people that haven’t received the training I have, and these individuals will be taking business away from me.”

Natural hair braiding is braiding hair without the use of chemical or heating devices.

Not everyone is concerned about the public safety concerns that opponents to Richardson’s bill claim are at stake.

“Braiding isn’t a very risky process,” said Rachel Draper, student of recreation management, from Fruita, Colo. Draper has had her hair braided by both certified and non-certified practitioners. “I have suffered some pain pretty much anytime I’ve had my hair braided. If it had been coloring or bleaching my hair, I might have felt more worried.”

Richardson, who was elected to the Utah House of Representatives last year, said government licensing has become too expansive.

“We don’t need to have the government involved in every part of our lives,” Richardson said. “When we need a license to braid hair, the licensure has grown to a point that is ridiculous. I haven’t found anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to require a license for hair braiding.”

The hair braiding bill was deemed a legitimate issue, but didn’t take priority. Members of the legislature conceded that possible discussion and compromise on the issue may be on the table in future meetings.

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