New Law Could Affect Cosmetology Industry

New Law Could Affect Cosmetology Industry

By Jennifer Kraus. CREATED Jun 26, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - One state lawmaker said there was no excuse for what staff members of a state agency did -- or rather failed to do. That representative showed up at the state Cosmetology Board meeting after hearing from folks, angry about a law that he helped pass last session.

The problem was many in the cosmetology industry didn't know about the legislation until after it had passed.

Cosmetology board member Rufus Hereford announced, "I've been so mad over this I can't talk."

Phillip Gould from Memphis proclaimed, "This bill is a disaster!"

Gould and representatives from more than three dozen cosmetology schools across Tennessee showed up to let board members know how concerned and even angry they are about legislation that passed last session.

Tommy Callahan told the Board, "This (the law) would make the state of Tennessee have the weakest law, the weakest school system in the whole United States."

It turned out, Board members were just as mad. June Huckeby demanded, "I want to know why we didn't know about this."

Board members said they didn't know about the legislation as it made its way into law. And, if they had, they said, they would have done all they could to stop it or at least fight it.

Under the new law, cosmetology students will be able to cut their school time in half by serving as an apprentice in say a salon.

Dale Jones, another cosmetology school representative, said, "Are we kidding? That will absolutely devastate this industry."

Those in the industry said there are a lot of problems with the law. Above all, they fear students won't get the training they need and could end up hurting customers.

Rick Wallace told the Board, "They (customers) are going to be damaged by this law. They are going to get hurt. There's going to be lawsuits and the state of Tennessee is going to sit here and scratch their head and say, 'What in the heck did we do?'"

Many at the meeting blamed lawmakers. Hereford said, "To have people making these laws that have absolutely no idea what they're talking about just makes me mad."

However, Representative G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) who was a co-sponsor of the bill said he was under the impression that everyone in the industry knew about the bill and supported it. He added that he was absolutely shocked when he learned after the bill passed that they didn't. He also blasted Commerce & Insurance Department administrative staff for failing to inform the board.

"I cannot imagine you have a staff that's not keeping up with the laws that you are responsible for rulemaking," Hardaway emphatically remarked.

Both staff members at the meeting insisted they were just too busy.

Charlie Schneider, the Commerce & Insurance Department's Legislative Liaison maintained, "The speed with which the Legislature works does not really allow me in my position to distribute this to every single person of interest."

However, it was clear that no one was buying that, including representative Hardaway who responded, "That's the magic of the Internet. You can inform thousands, even millions of people with the push of a button in a second."

The law is technically set to take effect next week on July 1st. Students won't be able to take advantage of it until the Board comes up with rules for apprenticeships.

However, students may never get that chance. We're hearing the Board may take so long to write those rules that the legislature could revisit the issue when it comes back into session in January and possibly even repeal the law completely.

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Jennifer Kraus

Jennifer Kraus

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Jennifer Kraus is NewsChannel 5's Weekend Morning Anchor and a member of NewsChannel 5's award-winning Investigative Team.