Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter Declares Victory & Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Arizona’s Cosmetology RegimeLegislation exempts natural hairbraiders from unreasonable cosmetology licensing scheme

John Kramer
John Kramer · April 22, 2004

Phoenix, Ariz.—The Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter yesterday voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit challenging the application of Arizona’s outdated occupational licensing laws to natural hairbraiders in light of the chief executive’s signature on Senate Bill 1159, which completely exempts natural hairbraiders from Arizona’s cosmetology regime.

“With a stroke of the executive pen, it is clear that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at the State Capitol,” declared Institute Staff Attorney Tim Keller. “This new legislation will result immediately in the opening of new businesses.”

The legislation was a response to the plight of natural hairbraider Essence Farmer, on whose behalf a civil rights lawsuit, Farmer v. Arizona Board of Cosmetology, was filed last December by the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter. Arizona’s Board of Cosmetology had required individuals who practice natural hairbraiding, but no other activity considered “cosmetology,” to obtain a full cosmetology license. This requires 1,600 hours of classroom instruction and at least $10,000 in tuition. Yet the Board-approved cosmetology curriculum does not include any instruction on natural hairbraiding. Rather, the curriculum requires extensive knowledge of practices that are antithetical to the principles of natural hair care.

“I’ve already begun the process of opening Rare Essence Braiding Studio,” Farmer said. “It is thrilling to be at the center of a movement that will allow entrepreneurs to take their first step on the road to self-employment.”

While exempting natural hairbraiders is a terrific victory for economic liberty in the Grand Canyon State, the job is far from done. A recent study by the Goldwater Institute, Burdensome Barriers: How Excessive Regulations Impede Entrepreneurship in Arizona, authored by IJ-AZ Staff Attorney Tim Keller, reveals numerous onerous licensing laws that restrict entry-level occupations. The study will serve as a blueprint for future litigation.

The law will go into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns. The Institute for Justice has successfully torn down barriers to entrepreneurship on behalf of natural hairbraiders in Washington, D.C. and California.

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