Arizona House Tackling Occupational Licensing

The Arizona Capitol Museum building in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Arizona state House of Representatives’ Committee of the Whole approved House Bill 2011 (H.B. 2011), which would reduce occupational licensing regulations for blow-dry hair stylists.

Sponsored by state Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale), H.B. 2011 would exempt from the state’s licensing requirements hair stylists who “dry, style, arrange, curl, hot-iron, or shampoo and condition hair” without chemicals.

The House committee approved the bill on February 13. A vote by the full chamber has not yet been scheduled.

Currently, those wishing to perform “blowouts” or other hair grooming services in Arizona are required to obtain 1,000 to 1,600 hours of training as full-fledged cosmetologists.

Says Licensing Raises Prices

Timothy Terrell, an associate professor of economics at Wofford College and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, says government permission slip requirements increase costs by restricting the supply of goods and services.

“Consumers are adversely affected, partly because the licensure requirements limit the number of practitioners in the occupation and thereby drive up the price,” Terrell said.

Ugenti-Rita says the licensing burdens on blow-dry stylists are unreasonable.

“To be able to be employed to just blow-dry and style hair, you need to get your cosmetology license,” Ugenti-Rita said. “That means you have to go to school for anywhere between 1,000 and 1,600 hours, at a cost of roughly between $12,000 and $20,000, depending on the school.”

‘Protectionism at Its Worst’

Terrell says the growing wave of occupational licensing reform suggests people are tired of unnecessary government regulations.

“It may simply be a backlash against an increase in the fraction of the workforce that finds itself frustrated by barriers to getting into certain occupations,” Terrell said. “The advent of good sources of information about service providers, like Yelp and various other online reviewers, has caused people to question whether they really need the government telling them whether a service provider is up to par.”

Ugenti-Rita says occupational licensing is rooted in cronyism.

“It’s protectionism at its worst,” Ugenti-Rita said. “Those who are opposed to this legislation are, for the vast majority, a part of the industry already. They don’t want to increase the number of people entering the field, for fear of competition.”

Win-Win Policy

Terrell says occupational licensing reform benefits job-seekers and consumers alike.

“The advantages of reducing barriers include improved job mobility, geographically and inter-occupationally; improved opportunity for younger workers; lower costs for consumers; and sometimes, higher quality as well,” Terrell said.

‘Extreme’ Licensing Rule

Ugenti-Rita says Arizona’s licensing laws are unjustified.

“The extreme burden of this license, when all someone wants to is engage in blow-drying and styling hair, is just a massive imbalance,” Ugenti-Rita said. “There isn’t enough justification to warrant continuing to have this license as a criterion for those who just want to blow-dry and style hair.”

PHOTO: The Arizona Capitol Museum building in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Paige Anderson

Paige Anderson writes from Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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