Wisconsin Assembly OKs bill ending hair-braiding licenses

Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison

The Wisconsin Assembly overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would allow people to braid hair without a barber or cosmetology license.

The Black community has been pushing to deregulate braiding for years. Thirty other states currently exempt braiders from licensure, according to the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for civil liberties.

The Wisconsin bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Sheila Stubbs and Sen. LaTonya Johnson, are Black. They contend that hair-braiding is a natural and ancient craft and de-regulating it will allow more female entrepreneurs to practice braiding and creating jobs for people of color. They also argue that many cosmetology schools don’t teach natural braiding and braiding isn’t a threat to public safety since it doesn’t use heat or chemicals.

Republican sponsors include Reps. Shae Sortwell and Travis Tranel and Sen. Mary Felzkowski. They support the measure as a way to reduce government regulations.

The Assembly approved the bill 88-5. It goes next to the state Senate.

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