State Republican lawmakers have re-introduced legislation to modernize the statutes authorizing the Ohio Cosmetology and Barber Board.

House Bill (HB) 158, sponsored by state Representatives Melanie Miller (R- City of Ashland) (pictured above, left) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) (pictured above, right), aims to update the statutes to harmonize the regulations and processes of the board and better serve licenses.

In 2017, the separate Cosmetology and Barber Boards were merged into one board. Before the merger, the State Board of Cosmetology oversaw nearly 113,000 licensees, and the Ohio State Barber Board oversaw more than 11,000 active licenses. According to Miller, the law is not properly adjusted to account for this merger.

“We have a unique opportunity to clean up the cosmetology and barbering statutes to reduce barriers for the profession as we work to improve our workforce,” Miller said.

The legislation would create a unified barbering/cosmetology school license, eliminate duplicative applications for facilities that teach both cosmetology and barbering, lower the age of applicants for barber school to 16 years old, reduce fines for disciplinary actions, and eliminate a requirement that a barber student complete 200 additional hours of training before re-taking the licensing exam.

The legislation also aims to loosen regulations on license reciprocity from other states, establish temporary pre-examination work permits for barbers, create an independent contractor license, create a process to designate a license as inactive, allow the board to independently set the passing score for the barber exam, and ease regulations for practicing a branch of cosmetology/barbering on a dead body in a funeral home.

In the last general assembly, this legislation also included a controversial amendment to reduce the required training required to get a cosmetology and barber license.

The changes tried to reduce the Ohio licensure requirements for a cosmetologist from 1,500 hours to 1,000 hours. Ohio’s current requirement of 1,500 hours is 250 hours more training than a cosmetologist in Pennsylvania and 500 more hours than hairdressers in New York, Texas, and Vermont. The required hours of training for a barber would go down to 1,000 from 1,800.

Although the amendment had vocal proponents such as Ohio think tank The Buckeye Institute and The Ohio Chambers of Commerce, the legislation stalled at the end of the 134th General Assembly requiring its re-introduction this session.

According to Miller, this session, the bill does not include any changes to current training hour requirements for initial licensure.

“After a lot of discussion and consideration over the past few years, I believe we have the support to move this bill forward as we find common ground on this issue,” Miller said.

The legislation has been assigned to review in the House Commerce and Labor Committee and is scheduled for its first hearing on Tuesday.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Bill Roemer” by Bill Roemer. Photo “Melanie Miller” by Melanie Miller. Background Photo “Barber Shop” by Kamile Leonaviciute.