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A small step for the committee, a stab in the eye for Big Government

A small step for the committee, a stab in the eye for Big Government

Wayne Hoffman
January 20, 2014

Kudos to Rep. Brent Crane, a Nampa Republican, and some of his colleagues for taking a small step to stab Big Government in the eye in the House Business Committee—and for helping shine a light on another dumb, hideous, unnecessary and plainly awful fact of Idaho law: It is illegal, today, to give a relative a haircut in the state of Idaho.

And it’s not just haircuts. The hyper-regulation of cosmetology includes hair coloring, the application of cosmetics, manicures and pedicures, all of which requires licensure.
The issue came up in the Legislature’s first week, when Roger Hales, the lawyer for the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses, brought a proposal to change the state’s cosmetology licensing law. Hales noted that under state law, you can give a relative a haircut in your home without compensation. But, said Hales, “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.

Hales proposed changing the statute so that a person practicing cosmetology on a relative in a relative’s home without pay wouldn’t be breaking the law in doing so.

“So if my wife chooses to go over to her grandma’s house and cut her grandma’s hair, she would be in violation of the law, is that correct?” Crane asked Hales.

“Yes, under the present law,” Hales answered. And Hales’ solution would still make it illegal for, say, Mom to cut their kid’s hair in a college dorm room or at a neighbor’s house.

The answers begat more questions, like this one from Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian: “What is the difference if it’s a home or a hotel or a third party home?”

Answered Hales, “I guess the perception is that one is going to maintain their house. Granted, we’re not trying to regulate that house and I understand your point. But maybe the concern out there is that you would be cutting somebody’s hair in a back alley. I don’t know. But the point being is that in the circumstance that we’re trying to resolve, it was the relative in the relative’s home.”

Crane moved to remove the words “in a relative’s home” from the licensing bureau’s bill, allowing a relative to cut someone’s hair, without compensation, wherever that head of hair might be found. His motion passed on a 10-6, and you’ll find the proposal in House Bill 363.

Frustratingly, Republicans Gary Collins of Nampa, Lance Clow of Twin Falls, Ed Morse of Hayden, Joe Palmer of Meridian and Clark Kauffman of Filer and Democrat John Rusche of Lewiston voted no, which shows what a tough road this particular bill faces.

The next step for the Legislature should be to remove the words “without compensation.” If my daughter wants to cut my hair, and I want to pay her $5 to do it, I don’t see why in the world we shouldn’t be able to agree to that arrangement. The only reason we can’t do it is that Idaho law forbids it, for purposes that have nothing to do with the safety and well-being of Idahoans, but rather the safety and security of the cosmetology industry.

As such, I have a sneaky suspicion that this legislative session will end with it still being illegal for a grandkid to give grandma a haircut at the retirement home. Egad.

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