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Ohio Senate passes bill that reduces training for cosmetology, barber licenses

Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Katie Groezinger, a student at The Spa School, colors a client's hair.

State lawmakers are moving a bill forward with new, controversial provisions that would reduce the amount of required training it would take to get a cosmetology and barber’s license.

Instead of separate licenses for cosmetologists and barbers, the bill would create a single school license for both professions.

The bill, HB542, began as a bipartisan piece of legislation that had wide support in the House. However, Republican senators added amendments to the bill in committee that reduced the required hours of training in order to get a license.

The changes would reduce the licensure requirements for a cosmetologist from 1,500 hours to 1,000 hours. The required hours of training for a barber would go down to 1,000 from 1,800.

Republican lawmakers have tried to lower the minimum training requirements for cosmetologists and barbers for nearly 10 years, but have been met by strong opposition from the industry’s educational institutions.

Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) detailed the changes on the Senate floor and said business groups, such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, believe the change will help grow the industry.

“That will translate into individuals achieving licensure more expeditiously without compromising safety or hygiene,” Roegner said.

Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) said he and others in his caucus were prepared to support the bill in its original form, but the changes to the training requirements create an “impasse.”

“I was all ready to support the bill until the amendments that were brought in. And then we had folks coming from all over the state saying, ‘Whoa, this is going to kill us,’” Thomas said.

The debate over industry training requirements pits salon schools against salons.

Those representing salons have said 1,000 hours is enough time for people to learn about safety and sanitary practices. They add that individuals can get any additional training on the job, working at a salon.

However, cosmetology and barber schools argue that it is important for individuals to get extensive education and first-hand training through their courses. Instead of continuing their training at a salon — where people might have to sign strict, non-compete contracts — the schools have said a license holder can go straight into opening their own shop.

Republican lawmakers who support the reduced training requirements said salon schools can still offer advanced course that go beyond the 1,000-hour minimum.

House Republican leaders have not said if the bill will get a vote before the end of the year.

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