Texas House Votes to Deregulate Natural Hair Braiders

Matt Powers
Matt Powers · April 24, 2015

Austin, Texas—Late Thursday, the Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass HB 2717, a bill that would deregulate natural hair braiding. Currently, braiders must comply with a variety of barber and cosmetology regulations such as attending barbering or cosmetology schools, completing a government-approved 35-hour hair braiding course and obtaining a state license. HB 2717 was authored by Representative Craig Goldman and the bill will now head to the Texas Senate where Senator Royce West has authored similar legislation.

“This vote by the Texas House is a victory for natural hair braiders across the state and serves as recognition that economic liberty must be protected not only by courts, but by legislatures,” said Arif Panju, an attorney with the Institute for Justice’s Texas office.

The effort to deregulate natural hair braiders follows a successful constitutional challenge by the Institute for Justice and Isis Brantley to Texas’ law that forced braiders to build a fully-equipped barber college before the state allowed them to teach students to braid hair for a living. The Institute filed suit in 2013 and a federal court struck down the law in January.

Today’s vote is the final chapter of a decade-long fight for Isis Brantley. In 1997, seven government officials raided her business and hauled her off in handcuffs for braiding hair without a special government license. Isis helped change that law in 2007, but Texas officials simply wedged hair braiding into the state’s barbering and cosmetology statutes, which made it nearly impossible for her to teach hair braiding for a living.

“I fought for my economic liberty because I believe there is a lot of hope for young people who seek to earn an honest living,” said Isis Brantley. “This vote by the Texas House means aspiring hair braiders from across the state are one step closer to being able to practice an ancestral art that dates back centuries, and do so without a government permission slip.”

More information on the case is available here: http://www.ij.org/TXBraiding