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Abolish Mandatory License for Shampooing Hair? California Lawmakers Will Consider It: New at Reason

Unfortunately, California’s Sunset Review process rarely leads to the sunset of anything.

Marc Romanelli Blend Images/NewscomMarc Romanelli Blend Images/NewscomIf you shampoo hair for pay at, say, elderly people's homes or at a salon—and haven't spent as much as $19,000 at a barbering and cosmetology school—then you are an outlaw.

It's illegal to do so in California. The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology posts this Frequently Asked Question on its website: "I would like to hire a person for the sole purpose of shampooing or preparing consumers services; can I do this?" The answer: "No, only a licensed barber, cosmetologist or apprentice can wash a consumer's hair or prepare a consumer for services."

Getting that license requires 1,500 hours of training, whereas a first responder/emergency medical technician only needs 120 to 150 hours of training.

This year Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) introduced legislation that targeted the licensing rules involving people who want to shampoo, arrange, dress, and curl (but not cut) hair for a living. The Morrell bill passed the full Senate with only two "no" votes, but was killed last week in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a 14-3 vote in spite of the fact that most of us have shampooed our own hair for years without calamity.

The hearing room was packed with students from local cosmetology schools. It should surprise no one that the main beneficiaries of the current rules are the schools that charge hefty tuitions for such training, nor should it be a surprise that the state bureaucracy (the Department of Consumer Affairs) estimated excessive fee-revenue losses if the bill became law. Those estimates are hard to fathom given how unimaginable it is that people currently go through the whole licensing rigmarole and then only use the degree mainly to shampoo and arrange hair.

But government agencies see any kind of minor regulatory rollbacks as a threat to their authority, writes Steven Greenhut.

Photo Credit: Marc Romanelli Blend Images/Newscom

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