A bipartisan bill that would lower barriers for hair braiding businesses has been passed out of committee and is expected to get a vote in the full State Assembly in the coming weeks.
The bill, authored by Representative Shelia Stubbs of Madison, would change state law so that hair braiding would no longer be regulated to the same standards as hair salons.
African-style hair braiding is a common and safe practice that has existed for many years, Stubbs says, and it offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs in African-American and African immigrant communities to support themselves and their families.
The bill got its public hearing on March 3 in front of the Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform, where supporters included the NAACP, Rev. Marcus Allen of Mt. Zion Church, Julie Grace from Badger Institute, cosmetologists Kashis Cheveux and Kiara Allen, former Madison NAACP President Linda Hoskins, JP Hair Design owner Jeff “JP” Patterson, and more.
The committee approved the bill on a 6-2 vote on Tuesday, with Milwaukee Democrats Jonathan Brostoff and Supreme Moore Omokunde voting no.
“It’s just been a blessing,” Stubbs said. “Bills have passed that I’ve been or coauthor or co-signer, but I’ve never been the lead author. I feel so excited and so honored.”
Stubbs said the bill has bipartisan support, and expects it to be approved by the full Assembly and Senate sooner rather than later. She noted that Republican Shae Sortwell is co-sponsor of the Assembly bill, and Democrat LaTonya Johnson and Republican Mary Felzkowski are co-sponsoring the Senate version.
“Let’s be clear, this hair braiding bill helps people of color, it will create more jobs, it will not only impact our economy and the lives of people of color, but it’s also going to simulate our state’s economy as a whole,” Stubbs said. “Because you’ll have more women entrepreneurs. So they won’t have to be in their basement anymore, or a room or a bedroom or right in their living room or kitchen. They can actually go and rent space and become entrepreneurs in so many areas.”
She also said she expects Governor Tony Evers would sign the bill shortly after it passes the legislature. She noted that after her bill to create an Office of Equity and Inclusion died in committee, Evers used an executive order to create it instead.
The Assembly is scheduled to return to session next week.