July 23, 2020

Tammy Pritchard was a Tennessee police officer looking to make some extra money, and having worked in a salon years before, she decided that she wanted to work a few nights a week at a salon shampooing hair. No big deal, right?

Well, it was a big deal. Shampooing hair without a license—something that people do every day at home—was a crime punishable by up to six months in prison, a $500 criminal fine, and a penalty of over $1,000 per incident. But getting a license to wash hair in Tennessee isn’t exactly easy: Someone seeking a license needed to spend about 300 hours and $3000 on the required training, and then pass two separate tests to get the needed government permission slip. Fortunately, Tammy challenged these unnecessary requirements in court and won. (You can learn more about Tammy’s story in this “Why Minutes” video.)

Tammy’s story isn’t unique, though—many states erect similar barriers to work. Take blow-drying: In most states, write the Goldwater Institute’s Jenna Bentley and Christina Sandefur in a 2019 report, blow-dry salon workers are required to obtain a license just to be able to wash and style someone’s hair—with no cutting, dyeing, or perming involved. “This results in a regulatory mismatch, forcing a person who wants only to wash and dry hair to invest considerable time and money taking classes on a host of complex services they will not offer,” Bentley and Sandefur explain.

There is a better way: allowing people who only want to wash, dry, and style a person’s hair to do so without obtaining an occupational license. The Goldwater Institute has been a strong advocate for this reform, and last year, we were successful in making this reform a reality in Arizona. In April 2019, Governor Doug Ducey signed the bipartisan, Goldwater-backed law removing the requirement that blow-dry salon workers—stylists who dry and style hair, but do not cut, perm, or permanently alter hair—must obtain a cosmetology license in order to do their job. This made Arizona just the second state in the country—after Virginia—not to require a costly, time-consuming license for blow-dry stylists.

Other states should take steps to cut out unnecessary red tape that holds back Americans like Tammy Pritchard—people who just want to earn a living or just a little extra money. To read more about what the Goldwater Institute is doing to break down barriers to work across the country, click here.

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