COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio lawmakers are close to passing a bill that could affect anyone who ever gets a haircut or a facial.
The Ohio Senate passed a bill that will lower standards for state barber and cosmetology licenses, but a state barber’s association is trying to block the bill which would cut cosmetology license training requirements from 1,500 hours to 1,000 hours, and a barber’s license from 1,800 hours to 1,000 hours of training.
“I can’t do anything with anyone that’s 1,000 hours,” said Waverly Willis.
Willis owns and operates three barber shops and leads a non-profit industry group known as the Ohio Barber and Beauty Alliance. He blames large chains for pressuring lawmakers to cut training requirements and lower standards.
“Now, if a regular barber student comes out at 1,000 hours, I probably wouldn’t even interview him, because it would be too much of a heavy lift for me to leave my client in the chair to go help out the new barber, but Great Clips, Sport Clips, those type of chains, they’ll gladly take them,” Willis said.
He said there is already a shortage of licensed workers.
Conservative think tank the Buckeye Institute agrees and that’s why it says the training hour requirements must be lowered.
“The state of New York is at 1,000 hours and has been for years,” said Greg Larsen with the Buckeye Institute. “And so this notion that there is a mass public safety problem, if that were true, I would imagine that you would have heard something having happened in a state like New York, which obviously is a more populous state than the state of Ohio.”
Willis argues Ohio’s barbers are better trained. He also works for a school and said they have fixed costs, so even if training hour requirements decrease, tuition will now.
“And if we cut those hours, their financial aid gets cut,” he said. “So the thing is, some without the financial aid, some people just won’t even go to barber school, cosmetology.”
“If the schools don’t want to reduce their tuition, then that says something about the schools, let’s be honest about that,” Larsen said.
Willis said Ohio schools include in their training how to form an LLC, get a tax ID, and grow their own business, not work for someone else.
“We have to teach them how to cut hair to the best of our ability, obviously, because they’re in barber college,” he said. “We have to teach them sanitation, obviously, because our main goal is to serve and protect the public. So we can’t cut those two out. So what’s going to go, the business part of it?”
Supporters of the bill said schools can still teach those things and offer extra hours of training, but it should not be required.
“In other states with no cost, no safety consequences for consumers, and as far as I can tell, no major consequences to the individuals,” Larsen said. “They’re out there working.”
The Ohio House of Representatives also passed a version of the bill, and now the House and Senate must hammer out differences, and then it is likely headed to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature.