Bills meant to deregulate cosmetologists and barbers earns praise, raises concerns

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Lawmakers in Madison are looking to cut rules and regulations for cosmetologists, barbers, aestheticians, manicurists, and electrologists with a pair of bills aimed at deregulating the profession.

"What the legislature is trying to do is trying to do with these particular bills, is free up cosmetologists and barbers to do what they do without as much regulatory entanglement," said Michael Jahr of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

The bills would make the process for earning a license in Wisconsin easier for those already licensed in another state.

To receive a license now, the applicant must have a license in good standing in the other state, and complete 4,000 hours of experience in Wisconsin.

The proposed change to the rule has earned praise form State College of Beauty Culture Administrator Andi Burns.

"They sometimes have been working a while in another state, or another country. So revisiting the reciprocity and eliminating that, I think will be a good thing for people moving into Wisconsin," Burns said.

One bill also removes what Burns calls unnecessary continuing education requirements.

"The continuing education that is being required, is for safety and sanitation, and they already know that. They learn that in school. They practice it everyday," Burns said.

The bills have raised some concerns however. Under the current law, it is illegal for licensed professionals to work outside of a licensed establishment. If passed, the bills would allow cosmetologists and barbers to perform services outside of these parameters.

"I don't think we should be able to go out and do a perm, or a chem relax, or an artificial nail application or microdermabrasion prior to a wedding or a special event," Burns said.

While the proposed changes, supporters like Jahr said, are meant to help those in the industry, cosmetologists like Char Luedtke said the industry should not be fully deregulated.

"I really don't think this industry should be deregulated. Otherwise everyone is going to be able to cut hair," Luedtke said.

While the bill does not get rid of barber and cosmetology licences all together, it would get rid of licenses for cosmetology managers and instructors.

Supporters say these changes would encourage more people to open up their own shops, and allow schools to determine on their own the best candidates to serve as instructors at their schools.