Lawmakers kill bill deregulating natural hairstylists

A Tennessee bill designed to deregulate the natural hair industry has been killed.

The proposed bill would have made it so hairstylists did not need a license to work with natural hair. It would have also unified barbering and cosmetology into one licensed trade.

Earlier this month, The National Association of Barber Boards of America wrote a letter to state lawmakers that said the bill would create "unnecessary barriers" to someone with a license who wants to move their practice to another state.

Lawmakers said the bill was killed because of the economic and health care impacts it would have on communities.

It would also have made it unnecessary to get a license to do natural hair. To get that license in Tennessee, it takes three to four months of classes, which costs around $2,500.

Cosmetologists said if the bill had become law it would have negatively affected 55,000 cosmetologists and barbers

'I'm overjoyed because that means my business can go on, natural hair salon owner Yvette Granger said.

Cosmetologists were also concerned about safety, saying without proper training, customers could have been at risk.

"We even use boiling hot water in some of the styles and if you're not trained in how to dip their hair and how to manipulate their hair, you can burn not only people but children," Granger said.

Tennessee Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) called the bill ignorant and culturally insensitive.

With this bill, they have awakened a sleeping giant,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson strongly opposed the bill and said it didn't allow for reciprocity, meaning other states would not have recognized a Tennessee natural hair license.

'It would have possibly imploded the entire industry, Parkinson said.

"I didn't realize just how important it is to be involved and to know the laws," Granger said.

A representative with Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance released the following statement: 

"While these bills were intended to allow for greater freedom for Tennesseans to engage in the business of natural hair styling and to streamline the regulation of the professions of barbering and cosmetology, mounting opposition and confusion made it clear that it would be preferable to withdraw support for the legislation. The Department remains committed to the health and safety of the citizens of Tennessee and ensuring the success of the professionals who serve our community."

State Senator Mark Norris, who sponsored the bill, released this statement:

"When concerns were expressed by barbers, cosmetologists, and natural hair stylists, I studied the issue and recommended that more study was needed on all fronts."

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