Arizona Capitol

Blow-Drying May Be the Next Profession Arizona Deregulates

The push to deregulate Arizona continues — and this time, it's hairstylists who are on the defensive.

On Monday, the House Committee on Military, Veterans, and Regulatory Affairs voted to advance House Bill 2011, which would get rid of training requirements for stylists who blow dry, straighten, or style hair without the use of chemicals.

Currently, those stylists need a cosmetology license, which requires with a minimum of 1,000 hours of training. Under the bill, introduced by State Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican from Scottsdale, cutting and dying hair would still require a license.

“We’re not talking about dismantling the license,” Ugenti-Rita said at the hearing, adding, “I would argue that we should.”

HB 2011 is backed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce as well as libertarian-leaning groups like the Americans for Prosperity, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the Goldwater Institute, the Institute for Justice, and the Market Freedom Alliance. It also has support from Governor Doug Ducey, who gave the bill a shoutout in his State of the State Address.
At Monday's committee hearing, Ugenti-Rita argued that the current regulations for hairstylists create barriers to entry, and lead to higher prices for consumers.

“I think that the people who are opposing this are those who enjoy the benefits of their businesses being protected by this license,” she said.

While some hair salon owners spoke in favor of the bill, saying that it would make it easier for them to hire apprentices and assistants, others argued that it would have a negative impact on consumers.

Roughly 100 stylists packed several overflow rooms, some wearing T-shirts that said, "Respect the License." In several hours of testimony, they argued that improperly trained stylists could hurt customers' scalps if they don't know how to use hot styling tools, and might not be able to recognize outbreaks of lice and scabies.

“The public health crisis will lie on your shoulders,” Kendall Ong of the Mane Attraction Salon at the Biltmore warned.

Others accused the legislators targeting the hairstyling industry of "elitism."

"This is a predominantly female industry, and why would you devalue that?" asked Veronica Penzone of BBV Salon in Scottsdale. 

The bill passed along party lines, with the four Democrats on the committee opposing it and the five Republicans in favor. It's now headed to the House of Representatives for a full vote.

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Antonia Noori Farzan is a staff writer at New Times and an honors graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Before moving to Arizona, she worked for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach.