New Jersey Assembly Democrats:McKnight & Speight Bill to Exempt Hair Braiders from Cosmetology Licensing Requirement; Create Entity to Oversee Hair Braiding Businesses Goes to Governor

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McKnight & Speight Bill to Exempt Hair Braiders from Cosmetology Licensing Requirement; Create Entity to Oversee Hair Braiding Businesses Goes to Governor

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angela McKnight and Shanique Speight to exempt hair braiding from the state's current licensing requirements and create a new regulatory entity to oversee these businesses has received final legislative approval and now heads to the governor's desk.

A study by the Institute for Justice determined that braiding doesn't pose risks that justify licensing, and licensing requirements for hair braiders actually create employment barriers. According to the study, complaints against braiders are so rare that a person is 2.5 times more likely to get audited by the IRA than a licensed or registered braider is to receive a complaint of any kind.

"Hair braiders are predominantly African-American and African immigrant women. This is a skill that is often learned at an early age and passed down from one generation to the next," said McKnight (D-Hudson). "Asking hair braiders to spend time and money on training that doesn't relate to their craft so they can do it professionally is unnecessarily burdensome and only helps to keep talented people out of work."

The bill (A-3754) would amend and supplement the "Cosmetology and Hairstyling Act of 1984," P.L.1984, c.205 (C.45:5B-1 et seq.) to exempt persons who engage in the practice of hair braiding for the general public from the licensure requirements under that act, and provide for the registration and regulation of owners of hair braiding establishments.

Currently, any person who provides any of the services encompassed within the definition of cosmetology and hairstyling, beauty culture, barbering, manicuring or skin care specialty services must obtain a license from the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling. This bill would remove the practice of hair braiding from those definitions, and exempt persons who engage in the practice of hair braiding, when performed for the general public, from the licensure requirement.



"We should be encouraging entrepreneurship, not bogging it down with senseless bureaucracy," said Speight (D-Essex). "Why are we asking hair braiders to spend time and money on unrelated training for a skill they've already mastered? Creating an advisory committee to oversee these establishments will help protect consumers without placing unnecessary burdens on owners."

The bill defines "hair braiding" as the twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding of hair by hand or with mechanical devices. "Hair braiding" may include the use of: natural or synthetic hair extensions or fibers, decorative beads, and other hair accessories; minor trimming of natural hair or hair extensions incidental to twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding hair; making of wigs from natural hair, natural or synthetic fibers, and hair extensions; and the use of topical agents in conjunction with performing hair braiding, including conditioners, gels, moisturizers, oils, pomades, and shampoos.

The bill would create a Hair Braiding Establishment Advisory Committee, within the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, and under the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling. The committee would consist of six members who are residents of the state as follows: three members who own or operate a hair braiding establishment in this state, two members who hold practicing licenses issued by the board, and one public member. The members of the committee would be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Members of the committee would be reimbursed for expenses and provided with office and meeting facilities and personnel required for the proper conduct of committee business.

The committee would have the following powers and duties under the bill:

1. issue and renew registrations to owners of hair braiding establishments pursuant to the provisions of the bill;

2. suspend, revoke or fail to renew the registration of an owner who operates a hair braiding establishment;

3. maintain a record of every owner who operates a hair braiding establishment in this state, their place of business, place of residence, the date and number of their registration, and any other information the committee deems necessary;

4. prescribe or change the charges for registration, renewal and other services performed;

5. in consultation with the board, establish minimum criteria for the physical premises and the operation of hair braiding establishments;

6. in consultation with the board, establish standards for initial and periodic inspections of hair braiding establishments consistent with the provisions of the bill; and

7. promulgate rules and regulations to carry out matters delegated to the committee by the board concerning any provisions of P.L.1984, c.205 (C.45:5B-1 et seq.) or this bill.

The bill provides that a person, corporation, firm or partnership intending to operate a hair braiding establishment must:

1. make application for initial registration to the committee demonstrating that the physical premises and the operation of the hair braiding establishment will meet minimum criteria as established by the committee;

2. permit an initial inspection of the premises of the hair braiding establishment; and

3. pay a registration fee as may be required by the committee.

The bill would also provide that nothing in the bill would be construed to preclude the owner of a hair braiding establishment from also engaging the practice of hair braiding in the owner's hair braiding establishment.

Under the bill, an official, authorized by the committee or the board, may enter and inspect a hair braiding establishment during all operating hours without prior notice. If conducting an inspection, the official would inspect and copy records of the hair braiding establishment, inspect the premises and pertinent equipment, and inspect any other files, objects, and facilities of the hair braiding establishment relating to a violation of the provisions of the bill. Every owner of a hair braiding establishment must either remain on the premises of the hair braiding establishment, or provide a representative of the owner who remains on the premises, during all operating hours, and must permit an inspection of the hair braiding establishment by any official authorized to conduct an inspection by the committee or the board.

The bill would provide that it is unlawful for a hair braiding establishment or an owner of a hair braiding establishment to engage in the following practices:

1. advertise in a manner which would tend to mislead consumers of hair braiding;

2. advertise, operate, or attempt to operate a hair braiding establishment in a manner that indicates that it renders any of the services encompassed within the definition of cosmetology and hairstyling, beauty culture, barbering, manicuring or skin care specialty;

3. aid, abet, or permit the operation of a hair braiding establishment that is not registered pursuant to this bill; or aid, abet, or permit a person or persons to engage in the practice of hair braiding for the general public in a hair braiding establishment that is not registered pursuant to this bill;

4. maintain a hair braiding establishment in a manner which is unsafe or unsanitary;

5. fail to permit an inspection of a hair braiding establishment by an official authorized to conduct an inspection by the committee or the board; or

6. fail to maintain, in a conspicuous place, a copy of its hair braiding establishment registration.

No provision of the bill would be construed to preclude the lawful sale of merchandise or the provision of services related to the beautification of the body or the enhancement of personal appearance in a hair braiding establishment, except that no services will be rendered that are encompassed within the definition of cosmetology and hairstyling, beauty culture, barbering, manicuring, and skin care specialty. To the extent that the committee determines that certain ancillary beautification services pose a health hazard to the public, it may adopt regulations prohibiting the services or placing restrictions on the manner in with the services are offered.

The provisions of the bill would supersede any county or municipal ordinance or regulation providing for the licensure, certification, or registration of, or otherwise regulating, a person who engages in the practice of hair braiding for the general public or an owner of an establishment in which a person or persons engage in the practice of hair braiding for the general public.

No county or municipality will have the authority to: inspect an establishment in which a person or persons engage in the practice of hair braiding for the general public; penalize a person who engages in the practice of hair braiding for the general public or penalize an owner of an establishment in which a person or persons engage in the practice of hair braiding for the general public; or otherwise regulate the standards and manners by which a person engages in the practice of hair braiding for the general public or by which an owner operates an establishment in which a person or persons engage in the practice of hair braiding for the general public. Finally, the bill would provide that all fees, fines, or penalties imposed, prior to the effective date of the bill and with respect to the regulation of hair braiding, by any county or municipality, or by any department, division, bureau, board, council, agency, or authority of any county or municipality, on a person who engages in the practice of hair braiding for the general public or the owner of an establishment in which a person or persons engage in the practice of hair braiding, will be waived.

This bill was approved 74-0 by the Assembly on June 7, and 34-0 by the Senate on July 1.

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