Indiana bill would eliminate licensing requirement for cosmetologists

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:33 PM EST
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INDIANA (WNDU) - Just days ago, Chelsea Lasiter launched a petition in opposition to Indiana House Bill 1364, a proposal that would eliminate the state licensing requirement for cosmetologists, barbers, hair stylists, nail technicians, and estheticians.

As of Monday, Lasiter’s petition had more than 26,000 signatures.

“My teachers, some of the people I look up to in the industry have fought this before, and everyone is kind of on the same board, where it’s like, ‘What are you thinking? What are you doing with this?’” said the Greenwood, Ind. stylist.

Bill author State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) said thousands of Hoosiers already have family members cut their hair for free and wants consumers to have a bigger say.

“Let’s say I know someone who has been referred to me, or I know them well, who has learned how to do this, and I trust that person, shouldn’t I be allowed to make that decision by the state?” raised Wesco.

Unlicensed workers who charge for services still would have to follow the same health and safety guidelines as their licensed counterparts. Additionally, they would have to provide customers with written forms containing information such as a disclaimer that they are not licensed along with a customer’s dated signature.

“It doesn’t change anything in the cosmetology and barbering law about what it takes to become a licensed professional,” Wesco said.

Cosmetology educator Lisa Firestone disagrees with the proposal and expands on the training licensed cosmetologists must obtain.

“We have training with the theory books that goes through the chemicals, how the chemicals are mixed, how to store them properly, the different tool uses,” said Firestone, who works in Goshen.

Madison County salon owners Stacie Leons-Parnell and M.J. Bowers, who each have more than 30 years of experience, expressed safety concerns and the potential impact of this bill on already struggling salons and barber shops.

“If you don’t keep your clippers clean and sanitized, your scissors - the pictures - straight razors, all that stuff, you are looking at terrible, terrible skin infections,” described Leons-Parnell.

Bowers fears she would be blamed for other people’s messes.

“If somebody else does color, then they come into us to have it fixed, we don’t know what they’ve used,” said Bowers. “And then there’s the possibility we could damage their hair even more. And that’s a liability for us.”

Wesco argued this bill isn’t about deregulation.

“I feel like it leaves the industry intact while giving consumers more freedom of choice as far as who they hire,” he said.

If H.B. 1364 passes the house of representative, it would be heard then in the state senate sometime around March.

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