Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom


Illegal hair-do in Utah unless your braider has a license

After a long and grueling election season, I’m tired.

Tired of beating my head against a wall.

Tired of watching good people make bad choices.

Tired of being beat up for taking a stand.

Tired of feeling like no matter what I do, it’s “Same song, 2nd verse” – or 6th, or 10th, or 40th.

After November 6, I took some time off. Read. Played with the kids. Went to the movies. Even went to the dentist. I did NOT go to interim day on Utah’s Capitol Hill last week – but I should have.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
We’ve all heard that quote, right?

It can conjur up mighty images of the battlefield, of Patrick Henry and his impassioned speech, of fighting for freedom in the fields of Gettysburg. More recently, it might bring to mind presidential elections and unelected czars, a fiscal cliff and partisan gridlock.

As it turns out, it applies to the state legislature and little things like hair braiding as much as it does our federal politics.  (Dang it. I already knew that….)

In the Business and Labor committee on Wednesday,a bill was passed unanimously, by the legislators who were there. This bill creates – and requires – licensure for hair-braiders in the state of Utah. In fact, it creates two levels of hair-braiders (regular and advanced), adds in hair-braiding apprenticeships (800 hours or more) and creates a brand-new concept of a hair-braiding school. Imagine that.

The committee did manage to exempt “natural” hair braiding, but if you want to add extensions or even just beads, well, you’re out of luck. (Of course, if you don’t charge, then there is no problem because it is OBVIOUSLY the exchange of money that makes the practice dangerous, right?)

Because it passed unanimously, the bill will be introduced during the upcoming legislative session as a committee bill, bypassing additional committee hearings and having very limited floor discussion.

It was sad to hear the only person who testified for the bill (no one knew it was coming up – that eternal vigilance thing biting us in the butt) was the lobbyist for the cosmetology schools. She said that “we” had worked out a “deal” after the last legislative session. “Who’s the we,” you might ask. That would be the owner of a chain of beauty schools, said lobbyist and the sponsor of the bill. That’s appears to be it. There certainly was no outreach to the people who oppose licensing hair braiding in its entirety.

Some people have asked who is behind the push to license hair braiding. The answer is simple: Follow the money. If you as the owner of a beauty school – or even better, a chain of them – can get the government to require any and all persons who want to practice ANY part of your government-sanctioned monopoly, you can laugh it up all the way to the bank. If this bill passes, then if you want to legally braid hair with beads ala Cleopatra, you need HUNDREDS of hours of training – and that’s the bare minimum. Failure to comply? A fine of up to $1000 for the first offense, up to $2000 for EACH subsequent offense. And ps: even if you’ve been doing “advanced” hair braiding since you were 5, not only can you no longer do it, you can’t teach it to others, either.

If that weren’t enough, the committee threw in another little bonus for the cosmetology schools: eyelashes. Want ’em done? Gotta go to a state-licensed school to learn a whole bunch of stuff you’ll never use but hey! Big brother knows best, even in Utah.

Way to shut down cottage businesses, guys. All that free-market stuff only applies prior to the first Tuesday in November, is that it?

I’m so disappointed. And I just don’t get it. We have good people in the legislature, but this is a mighty bad decision.

Back to my opening statement.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Even when you’re tired.

See you on the Hill.

UPDATE: In speaking with the bill sponsor, Jim Dunnigan, he was clear that a 600-hr license and a 300-hr license ARE a move in the right direction and that even if “hair braiding” is not in the current statute, the definitions of “twisting, locking, weaving” mean that it IS included. Certainly DOPL considers it part of the current licensure. From that perspective – which I understand – he’s right that 600 hours and 300 hours are less than 2000 hours. I still think it’s 300 and 600 hours too many. We’re working on that…..


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20 Responses to “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom”

  1. Michael Jolley (@UTJolley) Says:

    Love this. We need to talk about this hairbraiding stuff.

  2. hollyonthehill Says:

    Anytime. But I sure wish we did NOT need to…

  3. Meeknmild Says:

    So …what’s next …. will we be able to even take care of our children, grandchildren, braid our own hair or God forbid, braid our neighbor’s hair ? This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard – get the government out of my HAIR !! The part about not being allowed to teach this – I am amazed that our government does not have more important things to regulate than BRAIDS !

  4. Rod Mann Says:

    Great article Holly! Hopefully it will wake some people up in the legislature, prevent this from becoming law and stop other idiocies in their tracks. Do our legislators really have time to waste on stuff like this? Surely there are more important problems to address.

  5. Donna Lawyer Says:

    So disappointing. Seems like regulations are so much a part of their world they can’t see anything else. Maybe they get so used to it that it seems everything should be regulated.

  6. mike bready Says:

    Holly, you do get it! Keep up the good work. mb

  7. mark Says:

    As I recall, our legislature had time a couple of years ago to pass legislation creating a “state gun”. I guess if we have time for that kind of nonsense, we have time to make laws regarding hair care as well.

  8. hollyonthehill Says:

    I voted against that bill. It was a time-wasting feel-good bill when we had far more important things to do….

  9. hollyonthehill Says:

    By the way – thanks, guys. I appreciate your support!

  10. Janie Hawley Says:

    Holly – we’ll rest if we must, but we cannot retreat. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. We need to LIGHT UP THE PHONES and emails of our legislators….this socialistic/communistic nonsense has to be stopped.

  11. Elaine Says:

    Can the bill be substituted on the floor, not only changing it to specifically exclude all hair braiding techniques from licensure requirements, but also rolling back some of the other cosmetology and licensing requirements so that the only techniques that need licensing are those related to the use of chemicals. Like you said, it’s a government sanctioned monopoly, and maybe now’s a good time to end it.

  12. jeromefromlayton Says:

    I remember a similar situation concerning people who do nails that happened in a number of states. Just as the news tags put it, “minorities and women most affected”. A lot of states have trolls wandering around looking for “unlicensed contractors”, especially California.

  13. jbtalcott Says:

    Remember folks these are the very same Republicans that YOU voted into the Legislature who are doing the micromanaging and regulating. They have been doing this to public education for years and there has been a nary a whimper from the Right. Now that the “hairbraiding” faction’s ox is being gored it is a travesty of freedom and justice. Ain’t Utah great?

  14. mark Says:


    I’ll take it beyond the democrat/republican conflict. Utah is a one-party state. Anytime, one political party continuously holds all the power, the climate is ripe for abuse. I can’t remember the last time that we had one state official (lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor, attorney general) that was a democrat.

    People here don’t need or want a two-party system. They have all the truth they need with one party.

    The Bible says that what “you sew, ye shall reap”. I suspect this “hair-braiding thing” is the tip of the iceberg. There is probably considerable corruption underneath the surface that the media has never found.

  15. mark Says:

    I hope everyone followed the election results that say Matheson is the final winner with about 760 votes. They really threw everything they had at Jim this time around. They started by gerrymandering him out of his district. Than they recruited Mia Love who I have to admit was attractive and somewhat charismatic even if she beat some issues like a dead horse during the campaign. They spent over $5 million to get Jim. Yet, even with Mitt Romney carrying this state with 70% of the presidential vote, they still couldn’t elect their “rock star candidate”.

    Yes, it now appears that Jim has a safe seat, despite the use of every dirty trick in the book by the state GOP to get rid of him. Now the state GOP leadership looks like a bunch of arrogant ass clowns.

    Enjoy your victory, Jim. You deserve it. In 2020, when they redistrict this state again, they’ll probably spend days trying to take your seat away too. But, if you’re still running for office than, you’ll still prevail

  16. Richard Warnick Says:

    The public is, for all intents and purposes, locked out of the debate on practically every bill that the Utah legislature passes. One-party rule is the reason. Vigilance, even by those who know the arcane rules of the legislature, is not enough.

  17. Elaine Says:

    The problem isn’t that we are a “one party” state. We have more than one party. As I’ve become more politically active over the years, I’ve realized that Utah has just as diverse political views as are found throughout our nation. The real problem is that many of those whose views align better with the Democratic Party don’t affiliate with the Democrats, they tend to participate in the Republican caucus system instead. I can only guess as to why this might be so, but I think it is because they may be more comfortable with the Republican party’s stance on a couple issues, like abortion. Perhaps if the Democrats were more welcoming to those who are pro-life (or have one or two views that differ from the Democratic Party platform), they might attract people whose many other views are more Democratic.

    I must say, though, that on the issue of business licensing and regulation by the government, Democrats tend to be the ones who want more of it, so it is surprising that the Republican controlled legislature would pass a bill like that out of committee. This is just an example of how, even in a supposedly one party state, we still get laws passed that cross the aisle.

  18. mark Says:

    Elaine, you’d find very few democrats who have campaigned in this state in the last twenty years that are “pro choice” when it comes to abortion. Jim Matheson isn’t. Peter Cook who ran for governor wasn’t. I can cite you scores of other democratic candidates who were pro-life as well.

    I think there are a few democrats who participate in the GOP caucus system, largely because they realize its futile to try and elect democrats in most of Utah.

    If only the issue was as simple as abortion, this problem of the “one party state” would be solvable. Its deeper than that. The GOP has done a good job here of convincing a large portion of the LDS electorate that its positions represent those of the church. That’s the real reason why republicans have won every statewide electoral race for the last ten years.

    Bottom line. People have a right to vote for whomever they want. If people want to vote a unanimous slate of republican officials over a ten year period its their business. I just think a lot of it is totally irrational and helps create an environment where corruption and secret dealings can thrive. If there is no opposition, there is no one to point out your behavior when it is full of ethical lapses.

  19. JoyceM Says:

    Holly, You said that the Hairbraiding Bill passed Unanimously and that you weren’t there but the only minutes I could find of the meeting says it was passed with 2 dissenters and you got to speak against the Bill (now that was in October

    I thought the bill went before the committee mid Nov. I’m so confused.

  20. JoyceM Says:

    Rep Dunnigan wrote back saying I’m misinformed:
    He wrote, “Current law requires hairbraiders to have a license if they get paid for braiding hair. My bill exempts natural hairbraiders from being required to have a license in order to get paid for hair braiding. My bill decreases regulation in several different license requirements.”

    I don’t know what’s going on. I read practically the entire Bill. Is this the difference between Nov and October?

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