On Wednesday, the Legislature's Business and Labor Interim Committee had a hearing over the controversial issue of laws surrounding hair braiding certification in Utah.
Hair braiding in Utah is currently exempt from licensing as a result of a federal lawsuit won by a Centerville woman this summer. In August a judged ruled in Jestina Clayton's favor after she argued that regulations imposed on hair braiding was hurting her ability to provide income for her family.
Originally, Clayton was told she would have to go through the standard two-thousand hours of training that all cosmetologists have to meet statewide.
Now, hair industry lobbyists are meeting with legislators to come up with a compromse. These lobbyists argue that more training results in better sanitation and health standards. During the hearing, members of the Utah Beauty School Owner's Association testified and displayed photos of braiding procedures gone wrong that have stemmed from spread of contaminants like lice and mold.
"If you don't keep your equipment clean, the next thing you know, they're going 'hey you gave it to everybody'...all these people are getting lice or fungus," said Victor Homma, owner of Entre Hair and Nails in West Valley City.
Even though most legislators are on board with creating more regulation, Rep. Derek Brown R-Salt Lake, is not. Brown argues that this issue goes way beyond braiding and into the territory of too much government control. "When we as a state pass a law that mandates people have to do this, I think we've gone too far in terms of regulating," said Brown.
When asked about a compromise on the issue, Homma said he would be happy to comply. He agrees that people who only braid hair for a living should not have to go through as much training, but he says they should at the very least go through a few hundred hours. "It's the safety of the consumer we're concerned about," said Homma.
The hair bill will likely go before both the House and Senate in January for more hearings.