TN bill could deregulate natural hair licenses

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - There's controversy over a Tennessee bill that would remove the licensing requirements for natural hair stylists.

Tameshia Effinger is the owner of The Institute for Braiding and Natural Hair--a new school opening off Whitten Road.

The course costs around $1,000 per student, but a proposed bill in the Tennessee legislature could soon deregulate natural hair licenses.

"For me that means my school could be in jeopardy that I just opened and haven't had the first session," Effinger explained.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) is against House Bill 1809.

"If you remove the license requirement for natural hair, natural hair schools will go away. I mean, what reason would any have to go if they don't need a license?" Parkinson said.

Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), who's backing the new bill, said it makes it more affordable for natural hair stylists to make a living.

"Some of the things we've done through legislation have probably hindered some well-meaning people that just don't have the finances to be able to pay for the roadblocks we've put in front of them," Faison said.

If the bill passes, natural hair stylists wouldn't be required to follow sanitation or safety rules by the state cosmetology board.

Effinger said she believes even with deregulation, stylists will seek out ways to gain or improve their skills.

"The natural hair and the braiding industry is a booming industry and people want to learn," she said.

She added that no students in her natural hair institute have paid their tuition in full yet.

"I do have a couple of students who did make a payment, but the majority have done a $150 registration fee which is non-refundable," Effinger said.

She will also be out of pockets for the money she paid to become a licensed natural hair school instructor.

"So that's $2,500 that I just threw down the drain," Effinger explained.

The bill is up next in a state Senate committee on Feb. 20.

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