Rhode Island governor signs bill to deregulate hair braiding

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s governor has signed a bill to deregulate the business of African-style hair braiding.

The legislation signed by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo defines natural hair braiding and exempts braiders from the state’s requirement for hairdressers and cosmeticians to be licensed, effective immediately.

Democratic Rep. Anastasia Williams, of Providence, has been working to exempt hair braiders from licensing requirements for several years. She says their techniques are passed down from generation to generation and don’t require formal training.

Williams also says forcing braiders to meet the same licensing requirements as cosmetologists is an injustice and the new law allows entrepreneurs, including many low-income women, to make a living.

The nonprofit Institute for Justice in Virginia has pressed for deregulation. It says braiders are not licensed in 27 other states.

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