Lawmakers untangle fight over hair braiding
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Legislators on Tuesday untangled a years-long battle over hair braiding by deciding to trim away totally the requirements for hair braiders to obtain state licenses.

In recent years, bills on licensing hair braiding drew overflow crowds to long hearings as beauticians argued braiders should be trained and licensed to ensure safety. A resulting law that required 2,000 hours of training for braiders to receive a license — the same as for any cosmetologist — brought a federal lawsuit, which the state lost last year.

So the House Business and Labor Committee voted 14-0 Tuesday to endorse HB238, which eliminates licensing for hair braiders.

It also gives some help to beauticians. It reduces the hours of training required for them to receive a license from 2,000 to 1,600. It also makes it easier to obtain a Utah license for beauticians who move here from other states that require fewer hours of training by counting hours of their practical experience in salons.

The bill also clarifies that people such as department store employees who put samples of makeup on customers do not need to be licensed beauticians. It also requires that anyone charging money for cosmetology workshops that do not help to lead to Utah licensing must disclose it.

Unlike past contentious hearings, no one spoke in opposition to the final compromise bill on Tuesday — but it was supported by an array of hair braiders and beauticians.

"It has been an arduous journey," said Rep. James Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, sponsor of the bill.