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Another View - Aidan Garfield: NH frees hair braiders from regulation

June 26. 2017 8:38PM

Nearly 30 percent of Americans are required to hold some sort of state license to provide for themselves and their families. Among the victims of this professional overregulation are hairdressers.

New Hampshire hairdressers that wish to braid hair were, until recently, forced to obtain licenses that required more hours of training than many emergency professionals, namely EMTs and firefighters. A braider could only legally work after 1,500 hours of training, costing up to $20,000. Only six states had stricter requirements on hair braiding.

Large companies are often the biggest supporters of increased licensure requirements, as this boxes out their potential competition. The harder it is to enter a profession, the less competition a firm will have. A surprising example of this is minimum wage lobbying. Some of the largest and most influential members of the business community intentionally lobby for large increases to the federal minimum wage requirement in efforts to box out their small business counterparts. While companies such as Walmart or Target could comfortably sustain themselves on a $15 minimum wage, the local Ma and Pa shops likely could not.

The argument behind requiring state licensure is a powerful one. No one wants an untrained amateur in the operating room or defending them in the court of law, but as with many things in life, there must be a balance. It would appear as though the people of New Hampshire wish to help correct the scale.

New Hampshire became the latest state to eliminate the licensing requirement for hair braiders, thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Chris Sununu. Sponsored by Rep. Carol McGuire, HB 82 will exempt braiding entirely from the state’s licensing laws.

Braiders do not use any harsh chemicals or dyes that might endanger customers, ruling out any justification for licensure requirements. It would appear as though Gov. Sununu believes that the people can take it upon themselves to decide whether the individual provider’s services are desirable, a function of an open society and free market of mutual responsibility.

While many governors and state officials are busy currying favor among bureaucratic Washington elites and the new boss in town, New Hampshire is expanding common sense liberties for its people. HB 82 is similar to reforms that passed in South Dakota and Indiana. The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted unanimously on a similar exemption bill, while state senators in New Jersey introduced their own measure to eliminate licensing barriers for braiders.

With Gov. Sununu’s signature, there are now 23 states that no longer require braiders to be licensed.

Aidan Garfield is a media ambassador for Young Americans for Liberty, located in Arlington, Va.

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