Kansas cosmetologists upset about new bill

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A bill meant to help veterans and low-income people get jobs has cosmetologists upset. Julie Haase has been a cosmetologist for 30 years, and now runs a salon from her home in Newton. The new bill has her worried about the future of her profession.

"It seems to me like they're trying to de-regulate us." she said.

The bill would waive yearly licensing fees for lower income individuals, and members of the military. Julie says that's not fair. "They're [the KBOC] stating that 30-40 percent of the licensees already will fall under the guidelines where they don't have to pay their licenses."

The Kansas Board of Cosmetology said in an email the waivers would cause them to increase their fees for other licensees by as much as fifty percent every year. If fee revenue is not enough to support the board, they fear they may have to de-regulate.

"You won't even have to have a license to do hair if they de-regulate it and there will be no one to go around and check the salons." Julie says.

"We didn't think it was that big of a concern that it would cause that kind of problem for anybody." said Senator Bud Estes, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Federal and State Affairs, who sponsored the bill. "We thought of it as a simple bill, pretty easy. Help some of our military folks, who're coming back, be a nice gesture...or some folks that need a hand up."

He and other lawmakers didn't expect it would cause any problems, and he hopes those concerned will share their thoughts with the committee.

"They just need to talk to us and see."

That's something Julie and others are planning on doing. "We have to be heard, so that they don't take advantage of our profession...our licenses - they have value." she said.

Senator Estes says if the bill passes, those who have their licensing fees waved would still have to complete the same training standards as other licensees, and he doesn't think there's any danger of de-regulation.