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'Free the braids' bill gets unanimous support in Idaho House

The bill now heads to the Senate. It exempts those who practice natural hair braiding from required cosmetology school hours.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: The video posted above originally aired March 8.

This story was originally published in the Idaho Press.

The Idaho House has voted unanimously in favor of HB 762, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Reps. Colin Nash, D-Boise, and Brent Crane, R-Nampa, and Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, to exempt natural hair braiding from Idaho’s cosmetology licensing requirements.

The House suspended its rules Friday morning to bring up the bill immediately and pass it, speeding it to the Senate side.

Nash told the House that the state “thought this had been fixed last year, but the Board of Cosmetology got slapped with a federal lawsuit. … We think we have a fix here that will avoid litigation surrounding that, and provide opportunities for individuals that have a business to be able to braid hair without these onerous licensing requirements.” He added that he urged support for the bill to “free the braids.”

Nash said an interpretation of Idaho’s statute led to a legal opinion that hair braiding is included in cosmetology licensing requirement, which “requires 1,600 hours of cosmetology school which actually does not cover hair braiding,” he said. “This would exempt hair braiding from that rule, so that an individual who practices hair braiding would not have to go through 1,600 hours of cosmetology school.”

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, told the House, “I am so pleased to see this fix. This really does speak to the continued work that we need to do in this building, in this Legislature, in looking at regulations, whether they are there inadvertently or not, and looking to make sure that people do not have to get permission from government to do simple work like this.”

To become law, HB 762 still would need to clear a Senate committee, pass the full Senate, and receive the governor’s signature.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.

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