Gov. Eric Greitens References IJ Case in State of the State Address

Hair braiders may have a new ally in Missouri: Gov. Eric Greitens. Last night, in his State of the State address, Gov. Greitens cited an Institute for Justice lawsuit challenging the state’s requirement that natural hair braiders obtain a cosmetology license to practice professionally as an example of frivolous regulations that need to be ended.

Another thing holding back jobs: burdensome regulations…

Last week, I signed an executive order putting a freeze on all new regulations and rulemaking. Let me tell you why.

There were two women in Missouri who had grown up braiding the hair of their family and friends and figured they could make a business of it.

Then they looked up what they’d need to do to become a hair braider in Missouri, and they were shocked.

Missouri’s government mandates 1500 hours of expensive training for a hair braiding license. That’s 30 hours per week of training for almost a full year…to braid hair.

We need to end frivolous regulations like these so that our people can start their own businesses and create jobs.

Tameka Stigers and Joba Niang are the two braiders the governor was referencing. Under current state law, hair braiders in Missouri must obtain a cosmetology license, which could cost as much as $16,000 for 1,500 hours of training that does not actually teach how to braid hair. Stigers and Niang joined with the Institute for Justice to challenge the requirement.

A license should not be required to engage in the simple and common act of braiding hair for a living. Yet, according to the Institute for Justice report Barriers to Braiding, 16 states require a full hairdresser or cosmetology license to braid hair. Another 14 states and the District of Columbia have a license specifically for braiding, but these vary quite a bit—from no hours of training, all the way through 600 hours. However, 20 states expressly exempt braiders from licensure.

The report also found hair braiding to be so safe that a taxpayer was twice as likely to be audited by the IRS as a hair braider was to receive a complaint of any kind. In fact, licensing boards in nine states and the District of Columbia only turned up 130 complaints in seven years, and only six of those complaints raised concerns about consumer harm, none of which were verified by boards.

Last year, when Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed HF2459 into law he issued a line-item veto that eliminate licensing requirements for hair braiders in the state. In a statement on the veto, Gov. Branstad said, “Licensing and regulations should only by mandated when necessary to service public health and safety. Natural hair braiding does not require government mandates, regulations, or licensing.”

Iowa was not alone. In 2016 Delaware, Kentucky, Nebraska and West Virginia eliminated licensing requirements for hair braiders. In total, 20 states do not require licensing for hair braiders.

A reform bill pre-filed in December, known as the Hair Braiding Freedom Act, would remove the licensing requirement for hair braiders in Missouri. The bill would still require hair braiders in the state to register with the state and complete a self-test on sanitation.

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