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Minnesota (Finally) Untangles Hair Braiders From Licensing Laws

Minnesota will no longer license natural hair braiders thanks to an omnibus budget bill Gov. Tim Walz signed on Thursday. Previously, Minnesota required braiders to complete a 30-hour course and pay a $20 fee before they could practice their craft. But under SF 10, braiders are now completely exempt from all occupational and facility licensing requirements. With the governor’s signature, Minnesota joins 26 other states that have ended licensing for hair braiders, including Iowa, South Dakota, and, as of April, North Dakota.

“This is a great win for entrepreneurship, economic liberty and just plain common sense,” said Institute for Justice Legislative Counsel Meagan Forbes, who testified in favor of the bill. “The government has no business licensing something as safe and common as braiding hair.”

Thursday’s repeal caps a 14 year-long battle to end licensing for braiders in Minnesota. Back in 2005, the Institute for Justice successfully sued the Minnesota Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners, which at the time forced hair braiders to complete 1,550 hours of cosmetology training before they could work. But unlike cosmetologists, braiders do not cut hair or use any harsh chemicals or dyes in their work.

In 2007, the state legislature created the 30-hour specialty license that was repealed on Thursday. Prior to reform, over 200 braiders had registered with the state. But the new regulations created confusion in the braiding community. And complying with the course requirement amounted to losing a full week of work, which for braiders who live paycheck to paycheck, was an opportunity cost they could not afford.

“This is great news for all entrepreneurs in Minnesota,” said Lillian Anderson, a Minneapolis-based braider who was the lead plaintiff in IJ’s lawsuit. “SF 10 will expand economic opportunity, especially for female entrepreneurs and people of color.”

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