We have had a lot of involvement with the Utah State Legislature during January and February of 2021 in regards to legislation aimed at loosening licensing restrictions for certain hairstylists and other bills affecting the health and safety of the public and the professionalism of our vocation. The state legislature has buckled under pressure.
The first challenge was the introduction of SB86 which proposes that no license is necessary to shampoo, condition, curl, blow-dry, or heat style hair in a business. Many of us kind of went nuts since we’re in the middle of a global pandemic with COVID-19! There seems to be a double standard to deregulate legislation dealing with sanitation and health concerns and yet to penalize for not following COVID protocol. How anyone believes this could possibly be OK is so confusing.
We had wonderful participation in two protest rallies that were the brainchild of Devin Johnson, a young stylist who created signage and an event on Facebook, Facebook group, and Instagram group. She single-handedly got things rolling and was joined by 150 professionals on January 31st and by 100 professionals and clients on February 8th. It was really fun to see each other and know that our industry is safe, moving forward in the hands of a new generation of stylists. We had two different TV news teams at the first rally and one at the second.
Devin was joined by a number of speakers – Kathy Lynch, a stylist working primarily in film and TV from Utah County; Gentry Leonard, a student from Cameo College; Shelby Brey, a student from Collectiv Academy; Mikey Beale, an instructor from Collectiv Academy; Chris Thomas, a licensed stylist who runs operations for twenty Great Clips salons; and myself. It was really an honor to stand up and be counted, making everyone aware of us and our industry.
In addition to two protest rallies, we were able to be seen on all four local TV channels, in the Deseret News, the Tribune, and KSL Radio. The word got out with Devin, Kathy, Lenore Gibson, who owns Collectiv Academy, and with others giving interviews and answering questions.
Brenda Scharman, the legislature chair for the Utah State Beauty School Association, kept everyone in the loop and worked with the PBA to create links for both the professionals and the public to address their legislators. This campaign definitely worked - more than 3,000 personalized emails were sent. It was a herculean effort.
Sadly, SB86 passed the Senate house committee and was also passed in the House. We were successful in getting it amended to include a “Hair Handlers Permit” that requires an online training and proctored test. It will help but doesn’t really address the issue. As one representative said in Committee, "The fact we are having this discussion during a pandemic is highly unfortunate."
We have been able to identify future leaders in Utah who want to be involved and look at professionalism and licensing as something to be preserved. Many expressed a desire to gather again, stay connected, and continue to address issues. This is the real success we’ve experienced!
Ultimately, we know we must continue to stand up, represent, and inform. While what we do is so familiar to us that it is second nature, it is easy to forget that others – especially our legislators – do not understand public health and safety, communicable diseases, or the needs of a huge number of licensed professionals.
So, we will continue to watch, work, and campaign to protect the industry that we love. Remembering that in the past the UCA gave us a place to meet, connect, and build support, we’ll now become more involved in the PBA connections and use social media to keep track of each other and make sure that we are able to have our voices heard and make a difference.
Gary CallNational Cosmetology Association of UtahCosmetologyUtahImmediate Past Vice PresidentMarch 2021