ST. LOUIS - Missouri hair braiders are fighting back against the state’s licensing requirements.
On Thursday, a group called upon Governor Greitens to call a special session to pass HB 230, the Hair Braiding Freedom Act.
Currently, braiders spend thousands of dollars and 1,500 hours of classwork to obtain a cosmetology license. The new bill would require braiders to spend only $25 to register with the state, read a brochure and take a self-test. Missouri would be the 23rd state to deregulate hair braiding.
Two St. Louis hair braiders, Tameka Stigers and Joba Niang, are currently suing the state over its hair braiding laws. They teamed up with the Institute for Justice to challenge the law in 2014.
“Hair braiders in Missouri have been waiting for at least 20 years for the Legislature to pass a bill that would allow us to work without having to get an expensive and unnecessary cosmetology license,” explained Tameka. “We cannot wait any longer. Gov. Greitens must call a special session and ask the Legislature to finish what they started.”
14 state, including Missouri, still require braiders to be licensed as cosmetologists. The bill passed through the House by a vote of 137-10, but never made it to the Senate. The 2017 legislative session ended on Maay 12.
“The Hair Braiding Freedom Act had wide support from both sides of the aisle. It easily passed the House and was on its way to passing the Senate, but unrelated petty politics got in the way,” said Dan Alban, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. “This unjust law should be fixed to allow braiders to provide for their families. If the Legislature does not fix the law in a special session, IJ will continue to seek to have the law struck down in federal court.”
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