Detangling hair-braiding rules: Detour averted

By Jim Waters - Bluegrass Beacon

Along with his recently created “Selfie of the Week” contest, Gov. Matt Bevin’s Facebook page includes a video of the commonwealth’s 62nd governor going where most Kentuckians have never ventured—up to that little round enclosure at the Capitol’s pinnacle above the dome.

Bevin and his kids celebrated Spring Break by climbing myriad groups of stairs to get a bird’s eye view of Frankfort.

His video shows not only how small objects on the ground outside the Capitol seem but also offers a real perspective on how much smaller the floor of the rotunda under that dome appears from 200 feet high versus how it feels when you’re standing in that same spot surrounded by multitudes of self-serving politicians with an overinflated view of their own importance.

Perhaps the governor will consider climbing those steps again and inviting some of his fellow Kentucky politicians who’ve lost sight of why they were sent to Frankfort in the first place to tag along.

Rep. Hubert Collins would be a good candidate for such a climb.

Collins, who’s occupied space in the General Assembly for more than a quarter-century, tried during this year’s legislative session to wreck a bill filed by fellow Democrat and state Sen. Perry Clark from Louisville detangling the commonwealth’s onerous regulations of natural hair braiding.

Bevin eventually signed the bill after it was passed by the legislature, but not before Collins did his best to replace the now-former obstacles of entry into what’s known as the “African style” hair-braiding industry with new, equally thick regulatory barricades that shut out entrepreneurs wanting to open businesses providing this service.

The level of irrationality imposed by both the former regulations and Collins’ replacement amendment reach even higher than those “walls.”

Kentucky law previously required natural hair braiders to spend 1,800 hours and between thousands of dollars—anywhere from around $5,000 at the Paducah Beauty School to nearly $20,000 at the Empire Beauty School locations in Elizabethtown and Louisville—just to obtain the required license, even though the practice is totally natural and includes no dyes or chemicals.

“To add insult to injury, this training never even breaches into the braiding areas,” Clark said.

Yet after his fellow legislators voted to tear down these barriers, Collins proposed a floor amendment with several new requirements, including a $1,500 fee, which would trip up the dreams of immigrants—many from West Africa—who came to America legally and are willing to work their fingers to the bone while building a new life.

This nonsense of replacing one set of onerous regulations with another reminds me of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s quip: “I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning, I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

What’s really ugly—no matter the angle from which it’s viewed—is that Collins’ amendment would have sent the $1,500 fee straight to the Kentucky Board of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists, which is chaired by none other than the lawmaker’s wife, Bea Collins.

Amazingly, even Rep. Reginald Meeks—also a Louisville Democrat who normally floats around in the outer reaches of the political sphere’s leftist regions—labeled Collins’ amendment “anti-business.”

He could have added “corrupt,” as well.

If Hubert and Bea Collins would ascend those stairs and glance back down when they reach the top, they would see what state government as enshrined in the Kentucky Constitution was meant to be: a miniscule part of our lives that serves its constituents, protects their liberties, provides a level playing field and removes barriers that prevent citizens from freely climbing as high as their dreams, dedication, abilities, hard work and destinies take them.

When that truly happens in Frankfort, watch Kentucky rise higher and go where it’s never gone before.

By Jim Waters

Bluegrass Beacon

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

comments powered by Disqus