Rhode Island considers bill to deregulate hair braiding

In this Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017 photo Jocelyn DoCouto, top, adds braid extensions for seven-year-old Zanyrah Parrott, of Pawtucket, R.I., in DoCouto's home, in Pawtucket. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a bill that would deregulate the business of African-style braiding.

The state House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill to exempt natural hair braiders from the costly licensing requirements for hairdressers and barbers.

Braiders say their practice is a cultural tradition and art form and the training and safety rules for cosmetologists aren’t relevant to what they do.

They’re backed by a bipartisan group that includes the bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Anastasia Williams, of Providence, and conservative and libertarian organizations seeking to cut business regulations.

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The national law firm Institute for Justice has been fighting for years to deregulate braiding around the country.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity also endorses the bill.

Beauty schools have opposed it.

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