JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri hair braiders can breathe more easily today because Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced that he will not continue to defend a Missouri law limiting the ability of hair braiders to open businesses.
“Today, rather than having the Supreme Court review a case that will become moot when the new law, passed by the legislature this year, is implemented, the Attorney General’s Office is waiving its response in Niang v Tomblinson,” Hawley said in a statement. “We encourage the Board of Cosmetology to implement the new law expeditiously.”
The new law, put in effect by the passage of Rep. Shamed Dogan’s HB 1500, was passed with bipartisan support this past legislative session before big signed into law by the governor.
Under the new law, hair-braiders can become registered with the state by paying a $20 fee, but are required to watch a 4-6 hour video about infection control and diseases of the scalp.
But the Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners — which is controlled by industry appointments — refused to make the video.
Hair braiders have been fighting the state’s current law, seeking to declare the licensing law as unconstitutional, and after two appeals, the case was scheduled to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But with the passage of HB 1500, many assumed it was now a moot point.
And though Hawley’s spokesperson had said he supported the law, he was obligated to defend the old law. But a week later, Hawley issued his statement, saying that they would be waiving their response.
— AG Josh Hawley (@AGJoshHawley) August 15, 2018
— Shamed Dogan (@Dogan4Rep) August 15, 2018
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.