by Todd DeFeo
State lawmakers are considering changes to cosmetology and barber licensing laws, a move that is pitting business groups in favor of deregulation against industry groups who argue current laws protect the public.
House Bill 399, sponsored by Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, would, in part, lower state-mandated licensure hour requirements for cosmetology, hair designer and barber licenses. It would also implement license reciprocity to recognize licenses from other states.
“Onerous licensing burdens – essentially requiring workers to ask the government for a permission slip to earn a living – make Ohio less competitive, less prosperous, and less attractive to entrepreneurs and their employees,” Greg Lawson, a research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, said in prepared testimony to the House State and Local Government Committee.
“Extensive licensing requirements only make finding a job more difficult,” Lawson added. “Every unnecessary license is a red-taped hurdle that must be cleared. Every hour of unnecessary, unpaid training needed to satisfy bureaucratic requirements is an hour not spent earning tips, impressing a boss, serving a customer, or climbing a corporate ladder. Those are hours of productivity, hours of opportunity that young, low-income workers sorely need, but that the state continues to take away.”
As proposed, the change would not significantly impact state revenue levels, according to a Legislative Service Commission (LSC) review.
Eliminating independent contractor licenses could result in a biennial loss of roughly $1.5 million in license revenue for the State Cosmetology and Barber Board, the LSC determined. However, any lost revenue could be offset by permit fee structure changes under the bill, and the flexibility afforded the board in establishing license and permit fees.
“This bill has virtually nothing to do with regulation,” James Trakas, legislative agent for the Ohio Barber and Beauty Alliance, said in prepared testimony. “Current law does not throw up barriers to entry into this profession. Current law sets basic educational standards that are consistent nationwide and provides the basis for a prosperous career in the industry.”
However, proponents of the change argue burdensome regulation is ineffective and should be lessened.
“Ohioans, and those wishing to move to Ohio to contribute to our economy, deserve the dignity of personal choice as consumers and the ability to support their families without undue government burdens as they seek fulfilling work,” Jeff Dillon, legislative liaison for Americans for Prosperity – Ohio, said in prepared testimony. “Today many government occupational licensing requirements are anti-competitive, needlessly burdensome, and ineffective at addressing public health and safety concerns.”
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