Exception for public safety

Published 10:53 pm Friday, May 4, 2012

By KURT WALLACE / State Representative

I read the letter to the editor in the paper titled “Regulations not needed for barbers.” I would like to respond to that article.

I am bringing the bill (HB664) because many barbers throughout Alabama are no longer just cutting hair. Supposedly, this is the difference between barbers and cosmetologist, barbers only cut hair and cosmetologists (beauticians) can do perms, colors, bleaches,straightening hair and other things that require the use of harsh chemicals. When not used properly, these chemicals can cause second and third degree burns, permanent damage to the scalp, head, neck and eyes. To put it very simply; they put the public’s safety at risk. This is why it takes a year of schooling and a requirement to pass a very stringent written and physical test to get a cosmetologist license Nothing is required to open a barber shop except a business license.

My political stance has, and always will be, that we need less government bureaucracy and more free market enterprise. The only exception to that philosophy is when the general public’s safety is compromised. It has been suggested to me that we need to get rid of all these oversight boards and just let the “free market” do what it does best; the good businesses will remain open and the bad ones will be forced to close.

This sounds simple, but there is a great cost to the unsuspecting public if we do this. Should we stop inspecting restaurants for cleanliness and let our choice of where to eat come down to the restaurant that sends the least amount of people to the hospital with food poisoning? Maybe we should deregulate doctors and dentists, and only require them to buy a business license. Again, we’ll use the dead or wounded body count to determine a good one from a bad one. Or maybe we should just require them all to sleep at a “Holiday Inn” one night a week as the TV commercial suggests.

If barbers don’t want oversight, they shouldn’t go into the cosmetologist area of expertise without a license. Cosmetologists are trained how to use these chemicals and how to counteract the effects of these harsh chemicals when things go wrong, barbers are not.