Can you imagine landing in jail for blow drying someone’s hair? It’s hard to believe, but true. In Arizona, blow drying hair without a cosmetology or barbering license is a crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

If you want to legally blow dry hair in Arizona, you need a license that costs on average of between $15,611 to $18,000 in training and fees and requires 1,000 to 1,600 hours of training. It’s a senseless regulation that’s hindering a new and innovative business: blow dry bars, where customers can get their hair shampooed, conditioned, and styled quickly. The Goldwater Institute’s Christina Sandefur and Jenna Bentley explain in a new article why this regulatory hurdle needs to be eliminated:

“Requiring blow dry bar stylists to get cosmetology licenses does not protect the public health and safety—after all, people shampoo, blow dry, and style hair in their homes all the time, without any special training. Instead, the law keeps stylists from earning an honest living and customers from getting simple blow dry and styling services without visiting a full salon (and paying full salon prices). Without legislative reform, entrepreneurs subjected to these unfair and overly restrictive regulations are forced to seek refuge from the courts.”

Unfortunately, this is just one example of how government is imposing ridiculous regulations that stifle innovation. Over 60 years ago, only one in 20 American workers was required to get permission from the government to do their jobs. But today, over 25 percent of American workers are subject to occupational licensing.

While fewer than 30 occupations are licensed in all 50 states (most of which are in the medical, dental, and mental health professions), over half of all state-licensed occupations are licensed in only one state—occupations including graphic designers, audio engineers, braille instructors, and travel agents. In other words, many of these licenses are not serving a legitimate public safety need and have not been adapted to suit the modern economy. Too often when approaching a new business, government asks, “how do we regulate?” without first considering “should we regulate?”

Fortunately, Arizona lawmakers have an opportunity to undo one instance of regulatory mismatch and boost the state’s economy. HB 2011, a commonsense reform that the legislature will consider during the upcoming legislative session, removes the requirement that workers who only dry and style hair must obtain an expensive and unnecessary cosmetology license.

Entrepreneurs who pose no health or safety risk to the public should be free to focus on serving their clients rather than navigating a needless labyrinth of red tape.

Liberty in the News

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