Diverse Leaders Support Hair Braider Freedom Bill

For Immediate Release: February 28, 2017

Providence, RI -- Recognizing that many occupational licensing mandates disproportionately harm low-income families from embarking on a new or supplemental career path, the RI Families Coalition today issued its support for legislation that would free ‘natural hair braiders’ from the state’s occupational licensing requirement to work in their field of expertise.

House Bill H5436, sponsored by Representative Anastasia Williams, would exempt natural hair braiders from the requirements to obtain an “occupational license” otherwise required of cosmeticians and hairdressers. Such licensing requirements often include certain educational degrees or courses, specialized training, examinations, and payment of fees.

“There is no public health risk to this specific vocation. Our state should be encouraging work rather than restricting it,” said Ray Rickman, co-leader of the newly formed coalition and co-founder of Stages of Freedom. “This legislation would give many people the freedom to pursue a legitimate career or to earn vital additional income in this field.”

The RI Families Coalition is a new initiative in the state.The coalition is comprised of civil society leaders from across the philosophical spectrum, whose mission is to identify issues of common concern, where mutually agreeable solutions can be advanced. Currently, the RI Families steering committee includes Rickman, Mike Stenhouse (CEO RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity), and Johanna Harris(attorney, author, and former Chair of the Providence Licensing Board).

Earlier this year, the diverse coalition also supported the legislation resulting from the state's Justice Reinvestment Initiative and called on Governor Raimondo to diversify her recently announced Advisory Council on Manufacturing.

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