Three Georgia state representatives have introduced a bill this session that would, if enacted into law, lessen the regulatory requirements for niche beauty services, including blow dry styling, eyebrow threading and makeup artistry.
Specifically, the Niche-Beauty Services Opportunity Act, would allow Georgia residents to provide these services without the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers licensing them.
State Rep. David Jenkins, R-Grantville, the sponsor, said this week that his bill would “remove barriers to entrepreneurship without unnecessary bureaucracy in the way.”
“With the cosmetology bill, we are basically exempting practices that are proven safe that people do in their own homes. We allow people to do these very same things without a license if they work at a retail store or on a movie set,” Jenkins said.
“This will allow someone to work. The biggest barrier to this is tuition to pay [a cosmetology school], but, more importantly, there are more than 1,000 hours of education to do, which is one of your biggest barriers to someone on the lower income spectrum trying to make ends meet. It is that much harder to take time out of life to get a license like this.”
According to the Arlington, VA-based Institute for Justice (IJ), 20 states, including Texas, California, Alabama and West Virginia, completely exempt threaders from state licensing laws.
Repeated attempts to contact members of Georgia’s cosmetology industry, as well as the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers, were unsuccessful. Master barbers and master cosmetologists who were contacted, including those at training academies, said they were too busy working to speak on record.
OPPONENTS WILL NEITHER THIN OUT NOR FADE AWAY
Jenkins said two groups of people who will oppose his bill include people who teach at cosmetology schools as well as bureaucrats who license cosmetologists through the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
State Rep. Beth Camp, R-Concord, one of the bill’s two co-sponsors, said she’s heard from opponents that a lack of licensing threatens basic hygiene standards. A cosmetologist who is unlicensed, it is argued, might accidentally wound another person with a cutting tool and potentially spread diseases.
Camp said that, to her knowledge, those arguments are hypothetical, and she knows of no specific instances in which hygiene standards were breached.
“Quite frankly, for people who are unaware of proper hygiene practices, the cosmetology industry could come out with an information sheet and provide this information to individuals if they are worried about diseases being spread,” Camp said.
According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, the state Board of Cosmetology and Barbers have issued several cease and desist orders since June 2018, for unspecified reasons. Board members last August fined several licensed cosmetologists for unspecified reasons, with fines as high as $3,350.
As the IJ reported, eyebrow threading is an ancient grooming technique that dates back thousands of years.
“Using only a simple cotton thread to form loops as they work, threaders quickly and precisely remove unwanted facial hair. Since its arrival in the United States, threading has become increasingly popular, offering threaders countless opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, and their own chance at the American dream,” the IJ said.
“Unlike Western hair-removal techniques, threading does not involve skin-to-skin contact or the use of chemicals, heat or sharp objects. And unlike waxing, threading carries no risk of skin removal or burns. It is also quicker and less expensive than other forms of hair removal.”
Camp said Georgians who engage in this type of work and remain unlicensed cannot come out publicly to fight the state’s cosmetologist lobby.
“These are people who enjoy their work. People want to pay them for this. Perhaps it is a side gig for them. They just cannot afford to go to school for a year and take a year out of their life to get a cosmetology license,” Camp said.
“This is a right-to-work issue in my opinion.”
Camp said she carried a similar bill in the General Assembly last year, but due to opposition, it did not get a hearing in the House Regulated Industries Committee.
When asked about how this year’s bill might fare, the second co-sponsor, State Rep. Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin), said she was uncertain.
“We will have to wait and see,” Mathiak said.
“I know that the speaker [Jon Burns, R-Newington] has said we will be picky about things that get out of the Rules [Committee]. He is looking at bills very closely that really impact Georgia, so this one may not make it.”
Jenkins, however, is more confident.
“Without any inside information, I have high hopes it will make it out of committee,” Jenkins said.
“I think the red tape that keeps these folks from working is unnecessary, I hope this is a trend where the state will continue to evaluate licensure and make sure we haven’t created a bureaucracy for the sake of creating a bureaucracy, and we actually are protecting the public.”
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