A recent dust up in Utah courts pitted African hair braiding specialist, Jestina Clayton, against the State of Utah, over a current statute that requires 2000 hours of cosmetology coursework to become a licensed hair braider. Clayton, 30, who learned how to braid at age five and has been practicing longer than most cosmetology students have been alive, won the case on the basis of her constitutional right to earn a living. The judge cited the lack of evidence for any threats to public safety as grounds for his decision.
I applaud U.S District Judge David Sam for this
common sense and correct opinion. In doing so we recognize that while
many can see the restrictive absurdity in making a hair braider take
2000 hours of coursework, there are many who still believe that some
licensure is necessary for hair braiders and other common service
providers. Enter Republican Rep. Jim Dunnigan, who wants to “reduce” the licensure requirement to 300 hours despite a judge’s opinion stating no credible threat to public safety exists.
This all sounds well and good if all you’re trying to do is move the
needle on bureaucratic overreach. However, we interpret the judge’s
decision as a mandate for the legislature to remove this particular
licensure provision completely or supply evidence that there is a threat
to public safety—something no lobbyist or special interest has been
able to do. We therefore support legislation, which we expect to be
introduced in the 2013 general session, that will require state
officials to demonstrate a clear public safety threat prior to imposing
such burdensome regulations.
Clayton’s case has exposed a single egregious example of state
overreach and overregulation, but it also suggests that other similar
statutes may exist. We are willing to give our legislators the benefit
of the doubt that perhaps they were unaware of this burdensome statute,
since it and many others are probably buried in the depths of obscure,
outdated state code. However, in view of our state’s reputation for
conservative governance and given our state’s heavy conservative bent,
it would seem a popular and appropriate opportunity to dig deeper into
all existing occupational licensing requirements and identify cases
where such regulation is not at all necessary, and inimical to
individual liberty and free enterprise.
Capitulating to special interests or promoting the lesser of two evil
propositions simply keeps the door open for future legislative abuses
and further erodes essential freedom. I prefer a
principled approach to governance and recommends the removal of all
licensure requirements that do not quantifiably and demonstrably protect
the life, liberty, or property of Utah residents. In most cases the
unintended consequences of licensure laws is ignored while legislators
attempt to mitigate the most remote possibilities for abuse or harm in
the marketplace. Most recognize the need for reasonable protection of
public safety. Conversely, a nanny state can severely degrade the ethic
of personal responsibility. So, what is the appropriate balance?
We recommend a bias towards personal, familial, and local responsibility
whenever possible. This long-practiced Utah ethic can shield society
from many abuses and disasters where regulation often falls short. It
teaches individuals to provide for their own personal, educational, and
economic well-being which is truly the best protection against abuse.
It’s time we start seeing with a wider angle lens the real consequences
of bureaucratic overreach. We believe that a streamlined government will
result in more jobs, better quality of life, and greater economic
opportunity for all who live and work in this great state.