Politics

Legislation that aims to help natural hair braiders in Kentucky has won the support of both houses of the state General Assembly. The legislature on Monday easily approved a measure that would exempt hair braiders from cosmetology regulations.

Louisville Rep. Reggie Meeks said there’s a substantial West African population with hair braiding interests in his district. He said there is no cosmetology school in Kentucky that teaches this centuries’ old technique.

“To require someone to be licensed by an organization that does not teach what it is supposedly licensing … these individuals are put in an impossible position,” Meeks said.

Johnson County Rep. Hubie Collins cast one of the eight no votes. He told fellow members he’d been advised there could be thousands of unlicensed people in the hair braiding business.

“What if they tried to do nails and all the other things that the hairdressers do?” Collins said. “Who would inspect them, who would check them and see if they’re doing these things illegally?”

Collins filed an amendment requiring, among other things, that natural hair braiders be U.S. citizens and pay a $1,500 licensing fee. He decided not to call for a vote on the amendment.

The bill now goes to the governor.​