Tennessee Bill Would Do Away With Hair-Braiding License

The state of Tennessee can fine people $100,000 for braiding hair without a license.

Currently, there’s an effort underway to change that. HB 1809 and SB 2233 are sponsored by Rep. David Hawk and Sen. Mark Norris, respectively. They were offered up on behalf of Governor Bill Haslam, and would repeal the state’s requirement for “natural hair stylists” to be licensed.


In fact, the regulatory body for the state —  the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (which includes the state Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners) — is actually backing the bill. That’s right: regulators are asking for something to be taken away from their purview. Shocking, right?

Well, it seems there is actually opposition to the bill from people who currently have the licenses. They claim it’s necessary to protect the public. Really?

Nick Sibilla of Forbes writes:

[A]ccording to testimony by McCormack, there have been only two health and safety complaints against natural hair stylists since 2010. In fact, the Department has “opened more than 200 administrative complaints for unlicensed activity where we have seen no sanitation violations,” he said. “That’s actually more than we have licensees currently with the Department.”

In other words, protecting the public is a non-issue. Braiding hair is something that many women learn early in life and do all their lives, which is why many don’t want to go through the licensing process which requires training for something they already know how to do.


Those who are opposing the bill are looking out for themselves.

They know that if the requirement is lifted, they’ll suddenly have to compete. The law of supply and demand tells us that their value — since they would no longer be as scarce — will plummet in the marketplace.

Protectionism is not a good reason to have a law. If a law does more harm than good, it needs to go, and this one does.

As for those “natural hair stylists” who may have worthless licenses, tough. If you’re good, you’ll be fine. If you’re not, your license wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on in the first place.


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