Julie Grace Hair Braiding Testimony

On March 3, 2021, Badger Institute Policy Analyst Julie Grace submitted written testimony in favor of 2021 AB 121 before the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform.

Read a transcript of Julie's testimony below.

Read more about 2021 AB 121 here.

Representative Sortwell and Members of the Committee:

The Badger Institute would like to submit written testimony in support of Assembly Bill 121, which would clarify the fact that someone does not need to obtain a barber or cosmetology license to perform natural hair braiding in Wisconsin. This bill would eliminate unnecessary confusion and overregulation in the hair-braiding industry and would allow hair braiders across the state to more easily work and obtain a living in their desired field.

According to the Institute for Justice (1), 30 states already exempt hair braiders from state licensing laws. Yet in Wisconsin, aspiring or practicing hair braiders are sometimes told they must complete 1,500 hours of training from a licensed cosmetology school, a needless requirement that takes at least 10 months and costs thousands of dollars.

We’ve spoken to hair braiders who have told us that they want to ensure they’re practicing legally but have received mixed messages from the Cosmetology Examining Board and the Department of Safety and Professional Services on what – if any – requirements they must complete. A Nigerian woman we spoke to who now lives in Green Bay has been braiding hair for as long as she can remember. She was told she had to attend cosmetology school – a significant investment – and obtain a license to continue practicing but discovered that the topics covered in the coursework were entirely unrelated to her profession. She was not dyeing or cutting hair, only braiding it.

A review by the Institute for Justice (2) found that customer complaints against hair braiders are extremely rare. They examined nine states and Washington, D.C., and found only six consumer complaints against hair braiders over a seven-year period. None of these were verified by a board.

As Wisconsin continues to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important that the state remove unnecessary barriers that prevent workers and aspiring entrepreneurs from earning a living. We believe AB 121 does just that, and we fully support its passage.

(1) https://ij.org/activism/legislation/model-legislation/model-braiding-law/

(2) https://ij.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Barriers_To_Braiding-2.pdf