Barbers, salon owners and their customers from across the state are fighting a proposed bill in the State House that would end requiring licenses to practice.
State Representative Matt Shaheen (District 66) who represents West Plano and far North Dallas filed a bill (HB 1705) that would abolish licenses for barbers and cosmetologists, if approved.
"When they take our license away, our consumers are the ones who suffer," said Jimmie Sanders who is the owner of Hair by Jimmie Salon & Spa in Garland. "To put our industry in the hands of individuals who don’t have to select to get education to practice it is unheard of."
Sanders is one of several North Texas women who are fighting to keep the licensing process in place. They have an online petition to "Kill the Bill" that has garnered a great deal of attention.
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Sanders said the fight is more than just the licensing. She said it is about is about public health and safety.
"If an individual doesn’t know how to properly sanitize just that surface alone – someone can get something that is greater than a cold," Sanders said. "People think that all day long all we do is play with hair, but we had to go through bacteriology, we had to go through safety and sanitation, we had to understand chemistry we had to understand laws of color."
The group worries untrained people using chemicals that could lead to severe scalp burns, hair loss and infections including staphylococcus.
"Mr. Shaheen needs to understand that we are not just individuals that play and stand behind the chair," Sanders said. "Cutting hair is so much more than just cutting that hair and dropping it on the floor."
The group said they plan to gather in Austin at the State House to protest if the bill advances.
Shaheen issued a statement to NBC 5:
"The legislation was created to expand employment opportunities by eliminating unnecessary occupational licenses. I have always made public safety a priority, and I fully support various occupational licenses in our state that are required to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Cosmetology is a field in which the consumer can be trusted to seek out the best service provider without any serious risk of harm. There are several vocations in Texas that pertain to aspects of public safety like car mechanics, personal trainers, and electrologists that are not required by the state to be licensed. It is shocking that the average EMT is required to complete 120-150 hours of training on average whereas cosmetologists are required to complete 1,500 hours of training. Texans that are willing to join the workforce and compete - especially low income Texans looking to improve their lives - should face the fewest obstacles possible, and by requiring a cosmetology license, we’re creating unnecessary obstacles for those who want to earn a living."