Testimony from:
Marc Hyden, Director, State Government Affairs, R Street Institute
In SUPPORT of HB 1231, “Niche-Beauty Services Opportunity Act”
February 22, 2022
House Regulated Industries Committee

Chairman and members of the committee,

My name is Marc Hyden. I am a Georgia resident and the director of state government affairs for the R Street Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government in many areas, including occupational licensing reform. This is why HB 1231 is of special interest to us.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), one of the primary justifications for occupational licensing is to “safeguard public health and safety,” which is a noble goal. [1] If professional licensing was limited to only occupations where this need truly existed, like for doctors, then the government’s footprint in private enterprise would be much smaller, but up until recently, many states have swung in the opposite direction.

In 1950, less than 5 percent of professionals needed a state license to work. Today, that number is closer to 30 percent, and in Georgia includes occupations like librarians and those who engage in niche beauty services, like blow drying and styling hair. However, as the Brookings Institution points out “not all occupations pose equivalent threats to health and safety.” [2] If an unqualified or unscrupulous physician botches a surgery, then the risks are immense and could lead to death, but if a librarian makes a mistake with the Dewey Decimal System, then a book might be misplaced. These two risks are incomparable.

The same can be said for niche beauty services too. “Unlike traditional cosmetology salons, hairstyling salons offer safe, limited services including shampooing, blow drying and styling hair. These specialty salons do not cut hair or use chemicals or dyes,” writes the Institute for Justice. In short, niche beauty service operators pose little risk compared to other occupations. After all, if a professional makes a mistake while styling hair, then they can simply start over.

Despite this, those engaged in niche beauty services face burdensome and unnecessary licensing requirements. They are licensed as cosmetologists, even though, as mentioned above, they do not perform the same services. However, obtaining a license is expensive and time-consuming. According to the Institute for Justice, Georgia requires the passage of two state exams, a $139 license fee and the completion of 1,500 clock hours of education, which can cost thousands of dollars—a price many Georgians cannot afford. [4]

The results of the proliferation of occupational licensing has been stark. As studies have demonstrated they increase costs to work, which are passed onto consumers, and prevent many from obtaining gainful employment. Licensing may result in 2.85 million fewer jobs across the country, and the annual cost of licensing to consumers may be well over $200 billion. [5] Meanwhile, research has shown that increased licensing requirements do not increase the quality of services. [6]

Given all of this, there is no strong justification to require niche beauty service professionals to obtain a cosmetology license in order to work. As it stands, Georgia has the 14th most burdensome occupational licensing requirements for lower-income professions, like niche beauty services. [7] As such, it is critical that the legislature pass HB 1231.

Thank you,

Marc Hyden
Director, State Government Affairs
R Street Institute
(404) 918-2731
[email protected]

[1] “The State of Occupational Licensing: Research, State Policies and Trends,” National Conference of State Legislatures, last accessed Feb. 18, 2022. https://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/HTML_LargeReports/occupationallicensing_final.htm.

[2] Morris M. Kleiner, “Reforming Occupational Licensing Policies,” The Hamilton Project, March 2015. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/THP_KleinerDiscPaper_final.pdf.

[3] “Niche-Beauty Services Opportunity Act,” The Institute for Justice, last accessed Feb. 18, 2022. https://ij.org/legislation/niche-beauty-services-opportunity-act.

[4] Dick M. Carpenter II et al., “License to Work,” Institute for Justice, Nov. 13, 2017. https://ij.org/report/license-to-work-2.

[5] Kleiner. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/THP_KleinerDiscPaper_final.pdf.

[6] Joshua D. Angrist and Jonathan Guryan, “Does teacher testing raise teacher quality? Evidence from state certification requirements,” Economics of Education Review, March 23, 2007. https://economics.mit.edu/files/2202; Morris M. Kleiner and Robert T. Kudrle, “Does Regulation Affect Economic Outcomes?: The Case of Dentistry,” National Bureau of Economic Research, January 1997. https://www.nber.org/papers/w5869.

[7] Carpenter II, et al. https://ij.org/report/license-to-work-2.

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