Senator Dawn Euer represents Newport and Jamestown

Two bills introduced by Senator Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) would help lighten the regulatory burden on entrepreneurs and make the American Dream more achievable.

One of the bills would exempt natural hair braiders from having to be licensed as hairdressers or cosmeticians.

The other would address Rhode Island’s complex, confusing and costly web of local regulations for food trucks by creating a new state business permit especially for them.

“While natural hair braiding and food trucks might seem to be pretty unrelated fields, both industries are made up of entrepreneurial sole proprietors and small, family-owned businesses that are working hard to provide a service that customers appreciate. They both also happen to be subject to crushing burdens of regulatory or licensing requirements that are not really appropriate or necessary and are inhibiting their industries’ ability to flourish here in Rhode Island. These bills would provide a more sensible regulatory approach so entrepreneurs in these fields can have a real shot at achieving the American Dream in Rhode Island,” said Senator Euer in a prepared statement.

The first bill (2018-S 2323) would exempt natural hair braiders from licensing requirements for hairdressers and cosmeticians. Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice that is particularly popular among African-Americans, and it is often practiced by women who were taught by other women and work out of their home or their clients’ homes. Natural hair braiding does not involve any dangerous chemicals, dyes or coloring agents, yet under Rhode Island law, braiders are considered hairdressers and therefore are subject to license requirements, including at least 1,500 hours of training through a cosmetology school. Cosmetology schools cost students thousands of dollars, and most don’t actually teach braiding, according to those who testified in support of the bill. The expensive licensing forces much of the industry into the underground economy.

The bill is supported by the Institute for Justice. Twenty-three states do not require licenses for natural hair braiders, including 12 that have deregulated hair braiding since the Institute for Justice began advocating for lifting license requirements for natural hair braiders in 2014.

A group of natural hair braiders has scheduled a demonstration of their work tomorrow, Thursday, May 10, from 2:30 p.m. until the start of the Senate session around 4 p.m. in the State House rotunda.

The State Food Truck Registration Act (2018-S 2502), which Senator Euer introduced on behalf of the Department of Administration, would standardize the business registration process for food trucks by creating a state food truck registration, and would explicitly exempt food trucks from laws regulating hawkers and peddlers. Currently, food truck operators must navigate different regulatory structures in each municipality in which they operate. The bill would maintain the ability of municipalities to regulate location and hours of operation.

“All of our communities are enriched when mom-and-pop businesses are able to flourish. Eliminating overregulation is a way we can support these small businesses, enhancing the character of our communities while allowing hardworking entrepreneurs to succeed,” said Senator Euer in the statement.