Wisconsin Senators Vote to Lessen Requirements for Cosmetologists

Jun 15, 2017

The subject of hair was a hot topic among Wisconsin state senators on Wednesday. They approved two pieces of legislation that would eliminate certain requirements for people who style hair. For example, the requirement for continuing education and for instructors to be licensed. Some people see the changes as a way to remove barriers to work, while others worry about potential health concerns.

Milwaukee Senator LaTonya Johnson does not want Wisconsin to lessen licensing requirements for cosmetologists and barbers. She says some instructors already complain that students here don’t get enough class time to cover all the necessities. And Johnson says she has a friend who went to salon to get what’s called a Brazilian Blowout to straighten her hair, but left on a stretcher.

“For those of you who think that changing the requirements for these processes do no harm, I’m here to tell you that they do. And that the removal of some of these requirements not only adversely affect women, they significantly adversely affect African American women who have chemical treatments anywhere from ever six to eight weeks, to every four months,” Johnson says.

Johnson says Wisconsin needs to have safeguards in place to try to ensure hair stylists are up-to-date with their skillset and don’t injure customers. But most of the senator’s colleagues disagree that removing some requirements for cosmetologists is dangerous. Republican Chris Kapenga says it’s happening all around the country.

“There are 32 other states that we’re mirroring with this bill and I have not seen any headlines that there’s been death by Brazilian Blowout in any of those states. I’ve been to some of those states and I haven’t seen a lot of bad hairdo’s or maybe I have, but it’s an equal number in this state as well,” Kapenga.

Kapenga wasn’t the only person disputing a correlation between licensing and health outcomes. William Flanders is with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

“We think that these extensive and over burdensome licensure requirements simply serve to make it more difficult for people to enter the profession in general rather than serving some sort of health and safety goal for the people of this state,” Flanders says. 

Flanders says the goal is to move government out of the way and get people to work. The state Senate agreed and advanced the changes.