In light of the overwhelming response to a rallying cry from the professional beauty industry, Indiana Representative Dave Wolkins killed a state bill Wednesday that would have eliminated licenses for cosmetologists and a handful of other professions. Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, says the stylists, estheticians and others who came to testify on the bill last week were so persuasive that their industry should be licensed and regulated, that he would not even ask for a vote on the legislation.
"They were amazing," Wolkins says of the hundreds of people who came to protest the bill. "They won the day, they made their case."
Wolkins had authored the House Bill 1006 after a legislatively appointed group—the Regulated Occupation Evaluations Committee—studied licensing issues last year. The group recommended the elimination of the boards overseeing cosmetologists, dietitians, hearing aid dealers, private investigator firms and security guards. Wolkins had initially said tthat the study group's recommendations deserved a vote, particularly because lawmakers had created the committee. But on Wednesday, he said the cosmetologists had made their point clearly and there was no appepetite for a vote on the measure.
Wolkin's decision came after professional beauty associations, including the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors and Associations (NCEA), the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), the American Association of Cosmetolgists Schools (AACS) and Cosmotologists Chicago (CC), rallied their members to speak out against the pending legislation.
Through outreach efforts, more than 18,000 beauty professionals from across the nation quickly came together to voice their opposition to state lawmakers through leters, emails, phone calls, and social media posts about the harmful effects passage would cause to the cosmetology professiona and consumer safety. State lawmakers listened and the bill will not be moving forward for a vote.
"Legislators in Indiana heard the professional beauty industry loud and clear that deregulation of the cosmetology industry was not wanted," states Myra Irizarry, PBA's director of government affairs. "We are very thankful for our industry partners and their proactive efforts to stop Indiana Bill HB1006."
In an excerpt from Representative Wolkin's blog, he explained how the response from cosmetologists swayed his decision to withdraw the bill:
"The whole goal of House Bill 1006 was so that the state could be less involved. It was not to ridicule any profession. This issue, however, has been all over the media because of the loud, public outcry opposing the bill. Those in opposition mainly inlcuded cosmetologists. They came to the Statehouse last week to give public testimony against the bill. I have to say, it was a refreshing scene to see cosmetologists take over the Statehouse versus the usual union protesters. They were polite and respectful, and were given their opportunity to speak. The best part of the democratic process is allowing the public to speak for or against legislation. So I was pleased to see such an outpour of public testimony and cooperation. After the committee meeting was held, I met with several members of ROEC and state legislators to discuss possible amendments or changes. One of theose amendments includeded not eliminating the State Board of Cosmetolgy and Barber Examiners, but make slight changes to how the licensing is done. Saying that, even though I agree with the overall goal of the legislation—that being less government involvement—I understand that this is not the year to do it, and this is not the legislation to do it with. I decided to withdraw the bill because we can do better."
While the industry should be proud that their support helped get the bill withdrawn in Indiana, it's just the first victory in what may prove to be a long-lasting battle against deregulation of cosmetology boards as different states across the country seek ways to slash their budgets. For example, in New Hampshire, the fight is heating up as the state recently introduced three bills that will directly impact the professional beauty industry:
HB1265 establishes criteria for the regulation of occupations and professions by boards and commissions as authorized by law, and provides that an individual may engage in a legal occupation (such as cosmetology) without being subject to laws that regulate the occumpaiton or profession which are arbitrary, unnecessary, or substantially burdensome.
HB1431 repeals the requirements of high school education and hours of training or apprenticeship required for obtaining a barber license, leaving as requirements only good professional character, passage of an examination and paying the license fee.
HB1538 prohibits the board of barbering, cosmetology and esthetics from adopting a rule prohibiting certain innovative cosmetic or esthetic treatments.
An alert issued this week by various professional beauty associations prompted members to sign a letter opposing the New Hampshire legislation. "Licensed professionals, business owners, distributors and manufacturers maintain a high standard of professionalism and legitimacy through education, best practices, health and safety, and complying with regulations that protect the industry as well as the consumer. These bills do not support our industry or our professional goals," beckoned the alert. To sign the Professional Beauty Association's letter opposing the proposed New Hamshire legislation, CLICK here and hit the tab "Take Action Now."
Deregulation is a definitely a hot button for the professional beauty industry, as evidenced by the reaction when MODERN SALON MEDIA broke the news of the Indiana's bills withdrawl on its Facebook page. "Almost immediately the post received 500 'likes,' 70 'shares,' and dozens and dozens of supporting comments—I had goosebumps as I watched the numbers climb," says Alison Shipley, MODERN SALON MEDIA's Executive Editor of Social Media and Video.
Here's a sample of the Facebook responses:
Kate Farlow: "Wow. We work with chemicals. Of course we need to be licensed. If the general public knew everything we had to learn, they sure would be more appreciative."
g.michael.salon: "We are very excited!!! Education is everything to our stylists, and our guests really appreciate all the advanced training that our salon does."
Rachel Twilley: "Wow! That is insane. I hate thie stereotype on this profession that just 'anybody' can do hair."
Evangelene Brown: "I heard that New Hampshire is trying to do the same thing. I live in Ohio, but this will affect us all. I am so proud of our industry for coming together, we just need to keep these politicians aware of what we do, and how important it is how we do it! chic out the website @pba.org under 'government issues' to get links to the emails of the bill makers in New Hampshire for HB1265 that also is trying to 'deregulate' cosmetology licensing in their state."
Elizabeth Jones Kirkham: "So, so happy this didn't pass! I do live in Indiana, and I could not imagine people that are not trained doing hair and nails! So relieved and happy!"
Chrissy AJ LeBlanc: "We all went to school for a reason. We deserve to be recognized as professionals—and licensed indeed!"
Christina Morison: They are trying to pass this in New Hampshire, too. I hope we can have the same results, but it really doesn't sound good over here! Go Indiana!"
Victoria Sylis Brooksbank: "I can't believe someone would even consider doing this! There is a reason why you should go to school for cosmetology! It drives me nuts that people think, 'Oh, it looks so easy.' It takes talent and skill to be a great hairdresser."
BELOW: Check out this video from Tabatha Coffey to hear how she feels about deregulation—warning: there is an F-bomb in the video.