Niki Kelly, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, has a good write up of the motivation behind some of HB 1172. It seems that someone at the Indiana State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners looked at the definitions for cosmetologists and for barbers and decided that since the definition for cosmetologists referenced cutting hair and the one for barbers referenced beards and mustaches, consequently it must mean that cosmetologists can’t trim beards and mustaches. Some participating in the discussion apparently like to bring up straight razors — which barbers have some training with and cosmetologists don’t — but neither statute mentions straight razors, and there are clearly other ways to trim beards, so that’s a red herring.
For cosmetologists, the current version of IC 25-8-2-5 says that cosmetology means, among other things, “cutting, trimming, . . . or similarly treating hair.” Meanwhile, per IC 25-8-2-2.7, “barbering” also means “cutting, trimming, . . . or similarly treating hair,” but it also means “shaving or trimming beards and mustaches.” Now, in defense of the staff attorney who took a look at the question, this a perfectly sound piece of statutory interpretation — you have two sections with parallel language about cutting and trimming hair. But then one of these sections has this extra bit about shaving beards. There is this legal fiction in statutory construction that the General Assembly would never use extra words in a statute, so you have to give each one force and meaning if possible. So, you have to do something with this idea that trimming beards somehow adds something to the statute not already present with the language about trimming hair. Therefore, in the land of licensure, beards are not hair.
HB 1172 would add language that says shaving beards and mustaches is part of cosmetology.
Some of the discussion reported by Niki Kelly was a fear that this would have an economic impact on barbers:
Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis, said the bill could put barbers out of business, noting there are 46,000 licensed cosmetologists in Indiana but only 3,400 licensed barbers.
“The big cat is eating up the little cat,” he said. “We just need to make sure it’s fair.”
Licensure laws are usually discussed in terms of public safety. After all, you have to have justification if you’re going to prohibit large chunks of the population from engaging in certain behavior. Public safety is a very valid reason for such regulations. However, economic protectionism is very often a major reason for these laws, but it is seldom discussed very openly. If the legislature wants to say that straight razors are dangerous in the hands of untrained individuals, you’ll get no argument here. But if that’s the true concern, have the legislation address the tools that are regarded as dangerous. Don’t arbitrarily say that beards aren’t hair as a way of preferring one industry over another.