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Happy Labor Day

Updated: Apr 13

Happy Labor Day! – a day that always reminds me of Maya Angelou’s maxim, “Nothing will work unless you do.” A few weeks ago, the right to work took a big step forward in Arkansas. You might remember that, earlier this summer, an Arkansas businesswoman – hair braider Nivea Earl – sued the state of Arkansas over its excessive licensing requirements. The state’s response: Arkansas just folded, allowing hair braiders to do their work, free of the heavy hand of government, at least for a few months. From the Wall Street Journal:

Hair braiders in Arkansas were recently granted a reprieve from a requirement that they must undergo more than one thousand hours of cosmetology training before taking in paying customers. In a “Declaratory Order” issued late last month, the Arkansas State Board of Health said it has proposed legislation to create a “Natural Hair Stylist” certification for hair braiders, exempting them from a decades-old Cosmetology Act. To obtain a license under the state’s current law, hair braiders must take cosmetology training at a recognized school, with sessions on hygiene and sanitation, physiotherapy, “cosmetricity”– electricity used in cosmetology –haircutting, dying, scalp massage and iron curling, among other topics. Hair braiders in the state say those requirements are costly, time-consuming and unnecessary. They point out that hair braiding isn’t even included in any of the mandated training sessions. The July 24 order, by Miranda Childs Bebee, president of the state board, said it would not enforce licensing requirements on hair braiders until the proposed exemption is “considered, voted upon by the legislature and enacted as law” in the 2015 legislative session, which begins in January. 

As the WSJ story notes, excessive occupational regulation is a national problem that blocks work and job creation. Historically, Arkansas has been particularly burdened by excessive licensing requirements: a few years ago, a survey from the Institute for Justice found that Arkansas faces some of the most burdensome occupational regulations in the nation. Congratulations to Nivea Earl, and to all Arkansans and Americans who ask for nothing more than the right to do their jobs, free of the heavy hand of meddlesome government.

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