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Ballinger Fights Back Against The Over-Regulatory State

Updated: Apr 13

As I’ve previously written, state regulators in Arkansas have some seriously misplaced priorities when it comes to creation and enforcement of onerous occupational licensing requirements. In short, they’re making it too damn hard for entrepreneurs in safe and productive endeavors like yoga instruction and hair braiding to be able to work and offer their services to consumers. One bill, HB 1177, introduced by state Rep. Bob Ballinger, would give much-needed relief to hairbraiders looking to do business in the Natural State. Ballinger’s legislation would exempt hair braiders from regulation by the Cosmetology Technical Advisory Committee, the State Board of Health, and the Department of Health — and advance the (apparently) unusual notion that “it is the public policy of this state to protect economic liberty.” From HB 1177:

Occupational regulation and occupational licenses cause unnecessary difficulties for natural hair braiders to earn an honest living through their practice, to provide for themselves and their families, to offer their services to and compete for customers, and to create new employment and business opportunities through their entrepreneurism.

HB 1177 can be read here. It will be considered at 10 a.m. Thursday in the House Public Health, Welfare and Safety committee. Readers also might remember that the state is currently being sued by our libertarian lawyer friends over at the Institute for Justice, in an attempt to ease Arkansas’s burdensome hair braiding regulations. From the Institute for Justice in June 2014:

What profession is so dangerous that it requires 1,500 hours of classroom instruction before a person is allowed to work? Neither EMTs nor firefighters are required to have nearly so much training—but that’s what Arkansas requires of hair braiders before they can get a license to work. Today, two hair braiders are challenging this license requirement in federal court. “Needless red tape and regulatory overreach has Arkansas’ hair braiders practically pulling their hair out in frustration,” said Paul Avelar, an attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ) and the lead attorney on the case. “Occupational licensing regulations, like those governing hair braiding, deny thousands of Arkansans their right to earn an honest living. Today’s lawsuit is the beginning of the end for Arkansas regulators’ stranglehold on hair braiders’ economic opportunity.”

If the newly-elected Republican majority in the General Assembly is serious about making it easier for Arkansans to become entrepreneurs and create jobs, bills like Ballinger’s are something for them to consider. Indeed, even the Obama administration is starting to (slowly) see the light on the negative impact of occupational licensing requirements on the American economy. When I spoke to Ballinger, he told me that he was “excited to be in a climate where there’s bipartisan agreement that thoughtful  deregulation can create jobs and make us all better off.” I agree.

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