Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Kenneth “Peanut” Dalton uses a pair of shears to cut Clark Johnson’s hair as he sits in one of the two chairs at Dalton’s barber shop in Snellville on Wednesday. Dalton is celebrating 50 years in the business of cutting hair.
Barbers and hair stylists could soon face fewer regulations to set up shop in Michigan. A bill proposed in the state house seeks to get rid of the law making it illegal to earn a living as a barber without first getting a state license.
Supporters of the bill say the current regulations are a burden and raise costs for consumers. Currently, barbers must complete 2,000 hours of training at a licensed barber college and pay fees to get a state license.
Several salon professionals have spoken out against deregulation, saying the strict requirements ensure that skilled barbers remain in the industry.
"There's all kinds of things you learn in schools," said Gretchen Trent, a hair stylist at Bliss Salon. "How to proper hold scissors, how to not cut someone, there are just different techniques and skills you learn."
Trent spent two years taking night classes and training at a salon academy to get licensed as a hair stylist.
State Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester) introduced a bill in the state house that would deregulate the barber industry - eliminating the 2,000 hour training requirement.
"Republicans talk about wanting to reduce burdensome regulation," said Rep. McMillin. "I crafted the bill thinking barbers would be happy. There's less regulation, less money to pay."
However, some salon industry professionals are worried about the consequences of deregulation. They say it could impact the safety of their clients.
"I just think it would pose a safety concern, especially because barbers work with straight razors, cosmetologists work with chemicals, and with those, you need to know how to properly use them," Trent said.
But Rep. McMillin says barbers can still pursue training on their own, without being mandated by the state.
"If I were looking for a new barber, that may be something I wanted to do as consumer - to make sure my barber has gone to college," Rep. McMillin said. "But for others it may not be that big of an issue, so I think the market can decide how important that is."
Deregulation could also open the market up to more competition. Without all the training requirements, it would be easier for a barber to set up shop in the state.
Currently, there are five licensed barber colleges in the state, and several have already spoken out against deregulation.
Representative McMillin says the barber colleges do stand to lose the most if this bill passes. Right now, the bill is being reviewed by the house Regulatory Reform Committee.
News 10 will keep tracking the bill's progress, and let give an update if it comes to a vote in the state house.