The Statehouse File
Cosmetologists listen to a committee hearing over House Bill 1006. The bill would remove state-mandated licensing requirements for hairdressers and barbers. Photo by Abigail Godwin, The Statehouse File.
INDIANAPOLIS – Hundreds of hairstylists came to the Statehouse Friday to fight a bill that would deregulate their profession. Lawmakers said later there voices were heard.
The cosmetologists oppose House Bill 1006, authored by Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake. The legislation will eliminate their professional licensing boards as well as the boards for dieticians, hearing aid dealers, private investigator firms and security guards.
Sharida Burkholder, owner of Paul Mitchell School in Indianapolis, told the Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee that stylists need to be professionally trained and licensed.
Burkholder told lawmakers she wished she been able to get a pair of scissors past the Statehouse security officials.
She then pointed to one Democratic committee member and said she would have given him the scissors. Then she pointed to Wolkins said she’d have had the Democrat cut his hair.
“You think he’d be happy?” she asked. “I don’t think so.”
That brought a laugh from a lively crowd, many of which sported Paul Mitchell t-shirts.
Rep David Wolking, R-Winona Lake, defends his bill in a House committee hearing Friday morning. The bill, House Bill 1006, would eliminate state-mandated professional licensing requirements for cosmetologists. Photo by Abigail Godwin, The Statehouse File.
Wolkins authored the bill after a legislatively appointed group – the Regulated Occupation Evaluations Committee – studied licensing issues last year. The group recommended the elimination of the cosmetology and other licensing boards.
“The approach that we’ve developed, which is on the IPLA website which you can look at, is a risk analysis framework where we asked that the consumer can make a good decision with or without the availability of a licensing function.” said John Graham, dean of the Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
But cosmetologists said Friday that the chemicals they work with and the sanitation issues mean no novice should be working on people’s hair and nails.
“A cosmetologist does not just cut hair,” said Diana Kelley, who works at a JCPenney styling salon. “A cosmetologist is trained to detect when not to serve a client. We are trained not only in technique but also in anatomy, bacteriology, physiology, chemistry, and in infectious diseases. We learn how to recognize ring worm, head lice, and contagious diseases.”
Testimony lasted nearly 2-1/2 hours and afterwards, lawmakers understood the opponents’ concerns. Still, Wolkins said he would not kill the bill. He said the General Assembly asked the study committee to make recommendations and lawmakers should vote them up or down.
After the meeting, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Douglas Gutwein, R-Francesville, said he enjoyed the meeting and those who testified.
“These people, they have all gone to school for these various trades,” Gutwein said. “”I think they have a right to be heard and they were heard today and I think they were heard awfully well.”
The committee did not vote and is scheduled to talk about the bill again on Tuesday.
Kendra Rhonemus is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.