Both houses of the Idaho Legislature have approved a measure that will make it legal for an Idahoan without a cosmetology license to nonetheless provide a haircut to a family member. Under current Idaho law such practices are illegal, and while House Bill 363 would allow such activity with family members, it does not apply to non-relatives.
The bill passed in the House 65-3 and in the Senate unanimously. It now goes to the governor’s office for his consideration.
“This bill was first introduced in the House, but it was actually drafted at my request,” Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, stated as he presented the bill before the full Senate. “The issue was brought to me by a constituent. Certain freedom advocacy groups and individuals and news publications in the state might be shocked to learn this, but this was my bill.”
Cameron related a story of a woman who was seeking a cosmetology license, but was troubled to discover that she could not legally cut her grandmother’s hair until she completed the licensure process.
“My inclination was to tell her to just cut grandma’s hair,” Cameron stated, “but this constituent stressed to me that eventually she’d have to report to the licensing board and confirm that she was in full compliance of the law.”
Cameron confirmed with the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses that, indeed, it is currently illegal in Idaho to cut a person’s hair without first possessing a cosmetology license. The law applies even if the intended haircut recipient is a family member and even if one is not compensated for the work. “It was never their intention that the law would prohibit a haircut like this,” Cameron explained, “and to their credit they agreed that the law should be changed.”
Cameron and his constituent were not the only people surprised to learn of the current laws regulating haircuts and cosmetology. When attorney Roger Hales of the licensing bureau first proposed the legislative changes to the House Business Committee in mid-January, several of the committee members seemed surprised as well.
“Presently a person is able to practice upon their relatives in the person’s home as long as they don’t charge compensation,” Hales explained on that day, noting that the location of the haircut could make the difference between legal and illegal activity.
“If, for example, a grandmother can’t leave her home, or is in a rest home, then there’s no way for one of her relatives to help her with her hair, basically,” Hales said. He recommended to the committee that a person practicing cosmetology on a relative in a relative’s home be given an exemption from the licensure requirements. “This actually happened out there and it was brought to our attention by the constituent and the constituent’s legislator,” he told the committee.
Referencing the text of the proposal, Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, asked “is there a definition of ‘home’ anywhere?”
“There is not,” Hales replied.
Stevenson continued, “So am I to understand that if, all these years when all of us cut our children’s hair and so on, and it may not have been in our home but theirs, then we’ve been out of compliance with law?”
“Well, maybe you put your finger on it,” Hales responded. “I mean, I’m not sure that people are overly concerned with cutting their children’s hair, and if they do it in their own home, there’s a clear exemption for that. But this is a typical approach to the regulation of a profession. You make certain things required, but then you start exempting things out from that. And that’s pretty typical, and these exemptions have been in place for a long time and I think have served the profession well, and we’re simply looking to add another exemption.”