Testimony On Hair Braider Freedom

Cape Verdean Woman To Provide Demonstration During Testimony for Hair Braider Freedom

For Immediate Release: March 27, 2017

Providence, RI -- Joceyly DeCouto is expected to provide a demonstration on the safety of her culture's natural hair braiding practice during her expected testimony at tomorrow's (Tuesday) House Corporations hearing. The Cape Verdean woman will braid her daughter's hair, as she informs the committee why she and other would-be entrepreneurs should not be required to meet the same costly licensing requirements as other stylists and cosmetologists who use chemicals and other potentially harmful techniques.

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 costly requirements to obtain an “occupational license” otherwise required of cosmeticians and other hair stylists. Such licensing mandates often include educational degrees or courses, specialized training, examinations, and payment of fees.

“There is no public health risk to this culturally-sensitive practice. 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 Jocelyn and many others the chance to earn financial independence by deregulating this African style braiding.”

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), and Gary Sasse (director of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Integrity and former state director of administration).

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 he

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