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South Bend barber: Keep licenses, modify requirements in response to statehouse bill

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 5:41 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - An Indiana bill that would allow unlicensed barbers and cosmetologists to operate their own businesses is gaining more notice.

On Monday, 16 News Now interviewed some stylists who were against House Bill 1364, arguing it would reduce the quality of service for customers and put them at greater health risks.

Author of the bill State Representative Timothy Wesco (R-Osceola) says the proposal would give consumers more freedom of choice.

“Essentially, it allows consumers trust consumers to make a decision about engaging in business with a person who may be unlicensed,” explained Wesco.

But a South Bend barber said the bigger focus should be on what it means to have a barber or cosmetology license.

“The license has nothing to do with your cutting ability, right? It’s all about being sanitary,” said Ethan DeNolf, Barber and Owner of DeNolf’s Barber Shop and Coffee House. “When you don’t go the proper channels, you’re going to cut corners, right? And what are you going to cut corners on? The things that you don’t think that mean anything? The sanitation, right? ‘Oh, I’ll just spray this thing.’ They don’t really know what it does, though.”

Wesco maintained unlicensed barbers, stylists, and others in the beauty industry would still follow the same health and safety standards required of licensed professionals.

“You’ve got the local health department that would still have purview if this place is utterly disgusting and isn’t meeting basic health guidelines,” Wesco said. “You have the local health departments that will hold them accountable if, if they are acting recklessly and in such a way that could harm people. They can still be held liable because they’re still subject to the rules.”

To widen the access to more barbers and cosmetologists, DeNolf proposed having the training hours requirement to obtain licenses cut from 1,500 hours to 250 hours. That way, people can still have jobs while attending barber or cosmetology school.

“You go to school for five days a week, six hours a day for 250 hours. That’s two months, and you can get your your license, right? That’s plenty of time to teach you sanitation. And that’s plenty of time to give you the basics on how to cut color, things like that,” DeNolf says.

The bill says unlicensed employees would have to give customers written forms including information stating they don’t have licenses. Plus, they would need the customers’ dated signatures on the documents.

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

In general, DeNolf says licenses keep people more accountable for their actions.

“Why have a driver’s license? You need it, right, but there’s plenty of people who drive without a license, but what happens when they get it? There’s, there’s consequences with that. So there’s that, there’s that thing over your head. ‘Okay, I have to have my driver’s license, because I can get in major trouble if I don’t.’ But we still need to have that. There’s consequences as the licensing is required for the, for the hair industry,” he said.

Another aspect of H.B. 1364 calls for repealing an Indiana law that allows military veterans to have a license to vend, hawk, and peddle merchandise without having to pay a licensing fee.

If the bill passes out of the statehouse, it would go before the Indiana senate likely sometime in March.

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