The art of braiding hair goes back thousands of years and while cosmetology programs don’t teach the skill, many states require a cosmetology license to legally practice it. Up until a few weeks ago, Nebraska was one of those states requiring nearly two years (over 2,100 hours) of education costing upwards of $22,000. Beginning July 1, unlicensed braiders in the state can do so without fear of facing up to four years in jail and $25,000 in fines. In addition to braiding natural hair, braiders will also be able to install hair extensions and topical treatments like shampoos and conditions with a license.
“For somebody who is a young single female, potentially a young single mom, who doesn’t have a lot [of] resources and is already struggling to make ends meet, cosmetology in the state of Nebraska is expensive,” said State Sen. Nicole Fox who introduced the legislation.
Nebraska was previously among 35 states requiring an occupational license – which has caused much legal furor around the country. Last year, Texas ruled its own braiding laws unconstitutional after a nearly 20-year battle which also called for arrest and fines.
While some states only require limited licenses to account for health and safety – 20 states (plus Washington, D.C.) require extensive licensure requiring thousands of hours of training. And, the punishments for braiding are more harsh than for some violent crimes. The White House and organizations like the Institute for Justice have taken notice and are working to remove unnecessarily prohibitive red tape from braiding and other occupational licenses.