Tennessee braiding bill heads to governor's desk

Posted at 8:18 PM, Apr 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 00:38:18-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A proposal to loosen state regulations surrounding African-style hair braiding is headed to the Tennessee governor's desk for his signature.

House lawmakers advanced the "Hair Braiding Freedom Act" on Monday with a vote of 64 for, 24 against, and 5 lawmakers not voting. It would make hair braiders exempt from getting a natural hairstying license, but they would have to register with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. They would also have to pay a $30 registration fee, post a sign stating that they are not licensed by the Board of Cosmetology, and complete 16 hours of sanitation training.

"Eliminating this requirement could mean thousands of Tennesseans could earn a living braiding hair," said Rep. Mary Littleton, a Republican from Dickson who sponsored the bill. "This is a job creating bill."

Currently, Tennessee requires hair braiders to complete at least 300 hours of natural hair styling at a cosmetology school.

Opponents argued the deregulation would place the public at risk because some techniques require boiling hot water to set the braid. Supporters countered that practice would not be allowed.

"Our job as legislators is to protect the citizens of Tennessee," said Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Democrat from Memphis. "This bill uncovers and exposes our citizens to disease and loss of hair due to untrained individuals."

Gov. Bill Lee has not publicly stated whether he supports the bill.