Wisconsin Senate: No licenses for braiding hair

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — People would be allowed to braid hair without a license under a bipartisan bill the Wisconsin Senate sent to Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday.

The Black community has been pushing to deregulate braiding for years. Thirty states currently exempt braiders from licensure, according to the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit civil liberties organization.

Wisconsin currently doesn’t require a license to braid hair. But t he bill’ s chief sponsors, Rep. Shelia Stubbs and Sen. LaTonya Johnson, both Black Democrats, contend braiders have been getting mixed messages about whether they need licenses.

They also argue that hair-braiding is a natural and ancient art and deregulating it would allow more female entrepreneurs to practice braiding, creating more jobs for people of color. They argue that many cosmetology schools don’t teach natural braiding and braiding is safe since it doesn’t use heat or chemicals.

The bill’s Republican sponsors, including Reps. Shae Sortwell and Sen. Mary Felzkowski, who are white, support the bill as way to reduce government regulation. No groups have registered in opposition.

The Senate passed bill on a voice vote Wednesday, sending the bill to Evers. The Assembly overwhelmingly approved the bill in March.