LINCOLN — Nebraskans no longer would have to get a cosmetology license to charge for hair-braiding services, under a bill the Legislature passed Thursday.

Legislative Bill 898 would exempt natural hair braiding — including the use of hair extensions and topical agents such as conditioners, gels and shampoos — from state licensing requirements.

The bill passed on a 42-0 vote. If signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts, the measure would take effect in mid-July.

Across the country, stiff licensing requirements for natural hair braiders have been held up as a poster child for excessive government regulation. Other states, including Iowa, have been sued for having similar rules.

Adam Weinberg, a spokesman for the Platte Institute for Economic Research, called the vote “a great win for entrepreneurs and small businesses.” He said he hopes it will encourage policymakers to rethink other unnecessary licensure laws that can create occupational barriers for people.

State Sen. Nicole Fox of Omaha introduced LB 898 after hearing about the issue from a constituent and a colleague.

In Nebraska, a cosmetologist must complete 2,100 hours of training, provided by a cosmetology school, with tuition and costs nearing $20,000.

LB 898 would not exempt the use of hair dyes or chemicals to curl or straighten hair. Those practices would still be covered by cosmetology regulations.

Among other bills passed Thursday:

» Tuition and fee waivers for the children, stepchildren and spouses of U.S. military veterans who died or were disabled during their service would be easier to get under LB 718, passed 47-0. The bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, would allow those dependents to apply directly to the State Department of Veterans Affairs for those waivers, which are available at public colleges and universities.

» Nebraska National Guard members living in other states would qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities under LB 734, passed 48-0. The bill was introduced by Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, whose legislative district borders Iowa, Missouri and Kansas.

» Nebraskans serving in the National Guard units of other states would qualify for the same job protections as people serving in the Nebraska National Guard under LB 753, passed 48-0. Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue introduced the measure, which would make it unlawful to fire Guard members or dock their benefits if they are called into duty.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583, martha.stoddard@owh.com

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