Iowa repeals hairbraiding regulations

Aicheria Bell and Achan Agit are finally free to braid hair without the government’s permission.

The two women, both immigrants from west Africa, sued the state of Iowa last year over licensing rules that required 2,100 hours of costly cosmetology training before they could be licensed by the state to braid hair.

Victory came last week, not from the courts, but from the state legislature and Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.

As part of the state budget passed last week, lawmakers in the Hawkeye State voted to exempt natural hairbraiding from the state’s cosmetology licensing requirements. Previously, anyone who wanted to make money by braiding hair in Iowa was required to take 2,100 hours of training – 17 times more than is required to become an EMT – in skills such as applying makeup and cutting hair, and pay thousands of dollars to obtain a license.

The budget bill removed the licensing requirements for hairbraiders, but included a provision giving the state Department of Public Health the ability to write new regulations and required hairbraiders to take an annual training course.

A day after the budget bill reached his desk, though, Branstad struck that detail from the bill with a line-item veto.

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