The Wisconsin State Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday that would allow hairstylists in Wisconsin to provide natural hair-braiding services, like twisting and weaving, without a barbering or cosmetology license. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Tony Evers.
“There were so many people who were supportive of this. Hats off to all of the braiders in the state of Wisconsin. This is a victory for hair braiders,” State Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison), one of the authors of the bill, tells Madison365. “Now they don’t have to worry about somebody calling DSPS [Department of Safety and Professional Services] on them because they don’t have a hair braiding license.
“Now they can go and have these entrepreneurship opportunities that they deserve. This will be great for women and people of color,” she adds. “Wisconsin joins 30 other states across the country in removing a barrier for natural hair braiders.”
For a long time, Stubbs has been advocating for this bill, along with a host of members of Madison’s African-American community who have spoken at public hearings about how African-style hair braiding is a common and safe practice that has existed for many years and how the bill would be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in African-American and African immigrant communities to support themselves and their families.
“I’m so excited. I’m a little overwhelmed because it’s my very first bill that I am lead author on – along with Sen. LaTonya Johnson. We are the two Democratic leads and it’s very rare to get a bill passed in the Republican Legislature,” Stubbs says.
Stubbs says that she was also grateful for her Republican colleagues and co-sponsors, including Reps. Shae Sortwell and Sen. Mary Felzkowski.
“It is bipartisan … and that is the only way you can get work done in the Capitol,” she says.
Back in March, the Wisconsin State Assembly overwhelmingly approved the bill by a 88-5 vote to send it to the State Senate.
Stubbs says she is grateful to JP Patterson, owner of JP Hair Design, who helped look at the bill and craft it and Attorney Yolanda McGowan who also looked at the bill and gave her input.
Gov. Evers has 10 days to sign the bill into law.
“I can’t wait for Gov. Evers to sign this bill into law,” Stubbs says. “This one means a lot to me.”