NJ governor vetoes hair-braiding bill

Cyril Josh Barker | 8/30/2018, midnight
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wants lawmakers to go back to the drawing board after vetoing a bill that would ...
Hair braiding

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wants lawmakers to go back to the drawing board after vetoing a bill that would have eliminated the requirement for professional hair braiders to complete 1,200 hours of training at a beauty school in order to do business legally.

The bill stems from the law in New Jersey requiring all stylists, including hair braiders, to spend 50 days in a cosmetology school. However, many braiders say most cosmetology schools in the state don’t offer classes on braiding and cost up to $17,000.

"The board's current composition does not assure the presence or participation of an individual with hair-braiding expertise,” Murphy said in a statement. “It would make sense to remedy this shortcoming, particularly given the importance of hair and hair care to communities of color.”

Murphy wants to cut down the number of hours of required training for hair braiders from 1,200 to just 40 or 50 before he considers signing a bill.

Black lawmakers say the current law not only makes it harder for hair braiders to legally run a business but also unfairly targets Black hair stylists, many who are also African immigrants.

Under the current law, anyone who braids hair who has not been to cosmetology school could face massive fines. State Assembly members Angela McKnight, Shanique Speight and Arthur Barclay sponsored the bill, which passed in the legislature.

“Those laws are obsolete. It’s time for a change,” McKnight said in one report. “It’s 2018. If I come to them with the right people and the right stories, I believe we can sell this.”

About 50 of those who testified to lawmakers made the case that hair braiding was a cultural tradition and should not be regulated. However, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group, said hair braiders should go through some required training on sanitation and how to keep hair healthy.