Cascade in the Capitol: Testimony in favor of deregulating the natural hair care industry

The Oregonian published a great article about this hearing, pointing out Cascade’s long-held position against what the reporter labels government overregulation. She links to the Cascade QuickPoint I provided the committee yesterday.

Unlikely alliance presses Legislature to ease regulations on natural hair care
The Oregonian, March 27, 2013

Audio of the hearing is here. This bill, HB 3409, is heard in the first 36 minutes, with my testimony (in writing below) beginning at 33 minutes into the hearing.

March 26, 2013

Testimony before the House Committee on
Consumer Protection and Government Efficiency
in Favor of Deregulating the Natural Hair Care Industry
 by Steve Buckstein

Good afternoon, Chair Holvey and members of the Committee. I’m Steve Buckstein, Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, which is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank based in Portland.

I support HB 3409.

I submitted a short commentary one of our summer interns wrote last year after the public found out that Oregon makes it practically impossible for natural hair braiders to practice their trade in the state.

Eleven states already exempt braiders from cosmetology licensing, including our neighbors to the north and the south. Of course, in Washington state it took a lawsuit filed by the libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice to free hair braiders from the licensing regime.* I hope that won’t be needed in Oregon.

The law is silent on this issue in 22 other states.

Oregon is one of just seven states that impose licensing requirements on this profession, which include from 1,000 to 2,100 hours of classes.**

Reasonable people can disagree about which professions might require some form of state licensing, but in America the right to earn an honest living should take precedence over the need for the state to regulate everything in sight.*** It should also take precedence over an industry’s desire to keep upstarts out of the market.

Finally, I believe that your committee is in the business of Consumer Protection, not Industry Protection. By allowing hair braiders to earn an honest living, you’ll be doing them and their potential customers a real service.

Thank you.

* In my oral testimony I incorrectly stated that the Washington lawsuit was successful, but according to this article the Department of Licensing clarified the regulations to exempt hair braiding after the lawsuit was filed: Licensed to Work: We should not require state permission to, for example, braid hair, Alan During, Siteline Daily,  October 14, 2011.

**  A Dream Deferred, Valerie Bayham, Institute for Justice, 2005.

***  The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law, Tim Sandefur, Cato Institute, 2010.

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