African-American hair stylists are asking the Oregon legislature to scale back the rules surrounding traditional braiding techniques. The Oregon House is set to vote Monday on a measure that would ease the training requirements for hair treatments that don't involve chemicals.
Amber Starks wants to open a braiding shop in Portland. She also wanted to volunteer her skills for African-American children in foster care. But Oregon regulations say she can’t do either without a cosmetology license. And that requires more than 1,400 hours of training. So Starks approached lawmakers to ask them to relax the rules for hair-styling that doesn't require chemical and heat treatments.
She says she's pleased with the resulting bill, which would create a separate license for stylists like her, who specialize in so-called “natural hair care."
"It would give us legitimacy, it would give us economic opportunity," Starks says. "It would keep us from going over to Washington where it's currently legal and where I have my business now, because I can't do it in Portland."
The measure also has support from the Libertarian think-tank Cascade Policy Institute. That group argued that the license requirements for braiding were an example of overreaching government regulation.
On the Web:
HB 3409: Natural hair care - Oregon Legislature