On July 1, it will be legal for makeup artists in Idaho to make brides beautiful at their wedding. It will also be legal for curling irons to be demonstrated at retail stores. A bill allowing both practices passed the 2018 Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter signed it into law. It, and hundreds of other new laws, take effect with the start of the new month and new state fiscal year.

Otter, who leaves office in January, rides into the sunset with some meritorious laws that lean toward markets and more consumer choice. His prior gubernatorial years were more disappointing in that regard.

In 2016, Otter allowed his occupational licensure bureau to crack down on unlicensed makeup artistry and to pull the plug on demonstrations of curling irons for sale. That crackdown ended the paid application of makeup at weddings, film shoots, and beauty pageants, and sank curling iron sales at the mall.

In 2017, the Legislature passed a bill that would have done a lot to deregulate the cosmetology industry. The bill would have allowed makeup artists to once again operate free of government interference. That legislation, as well, would have cut the number of hours needed for cosmetologists to get a cosmetology license. It also would have legalized unlicensed demonstrations of curling irons. Otter vetoed the bill.

During the 2018 legislative session, the Legislature passed a bill that allowed makeup artists to get back to work if they’ve had 100 hours of training in makeup artistry and carry a state certificate. Same for curling iron demonstrators. Curling iron purveyors won’t have to get a bunch of training, but they will have to file their own registration with the state. Not the best result in the world, but it’s better than having your profession pretty much outlawed. The bill also lowered the number of training hours a person needs to become a licensed cosmetologist. Otter signed this legislation.

Otter also signed a bill that restricts the ability of law enforcement to seize property from people who have not been convicted of a crime. Otter vetoed similar legislation the year before. The signed civil asset forfeiture reform legislation also takes effect July 1, although some reporting provisions don’t take effect until 2019. Once again, note that Otter vetoed similar legislation a year ago.

Two more free enterprise bills that passed and were signed into law take effect July 1. Otter signed a repeal of the Depression-era law that basically outlawed Black Friday-type sales. And, finally, Otter signed a bill that allows Idahoans to shop for health insurance across state lines. Though it will likely take years to fix the damage done by anti-competitive insurance laws, the measure is hoped to eventually result in more affordable options for Idaho health coverage customers.

I have joked that Otter, who once identified himself as a libertarian, was clearly abducted by aliens and a socialist doppelganger has been serving as Idaho’s governor all these years. The abduction would likely have occurred after Otter, then a member of Congress, voted against the Patriot Act in 2001 and before he voted to expand Medicare in 2004. The 2018 legislative session demonstrated that the Butch of old still exists, and can still support free markets from time to time.

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