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."