Salon Suit Fights Arizona Regulations

Posted on December 10, 2003 | Type: In the News
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A proposed hair-braiding business is being used as an example of how government regulation can impede business start-ups in Arizona.

The Institute for Justice Arizona filed a lawsuit this week against the Arizona Board of Cosmetology on behalf of Essence Farmer, a 23-year-old who wants to start a braiding salon but can't because she needs to obtain an occupational cosmetology license.

The lawsuit claims the license is not relevant, because the curriculum to receive the certification does not include instruction on hair styling for Blacks. But because the license is required, Farmer cannot open a braiding salon unless she invests a year studying full time in cosmetology school and about $10,000 in tuition.

"Cosmetology school is just not an option when it doesn't teach her anything about her business," said Timothy Keller, an Institute for Justice attorney.

Sue Sansom, executive director of the cosmetology board, said Monday that neither she nor the board has been served with the lawsuit. She did point out that braiding is considered styling, which is part of the cosmetology curriculum.

"The only remark at this time is the board is very consistent . . . in implementing the laws and rules for all people," Sansom said.

She added that the board at some point may look at limited licenses to address some issues.

Keller announced the lawsuit while presenting a paper, "Burdensome Barriers: How Excessive Regulations Impede Entrepreneurship in Arizona," at the Goldwater Institute.

The report focuses on how licensing requirements and regulations stifle the most basic types of start-ups in Arizona. It features examples of problems faced by hair stylists, child care providers, street vendors and taxicab drivers to legitimately start a business.

"The results are these people are operating underground," Keller said.

Mark Brnovich, director of the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Government, showed support for the lawsuit.

"The theme today is government should get out of the way so people can go to work," he said.

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