Why is state law stopping Minnesota’s beauticians doing weddings?

Many people, particularly abroad, believe some very funny things about the American economy. One of the strangest of these beliefs is that America’s economy is some sort of unregulated, anarcho-capitalist free-for-all where anyone can do whatever they want, or, at least, whatever they want that they can afford.

Try telling that to Minnesota’s beauticians. As WCCO reports, “Some Minnesota beauty entrepreneurs are in quite a bind. They’ve been ordered to stop their wedding hair and make-up businesses by the Board of Cosmetology.”

An estimated three quarters of brides get professionals like Melanie Rivers, of St. Paul to handle hair and makeup on their big day. But, starting in late 2017, Minnesota beauticians started getting cease and desist orders from the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology.

The board’s rules say regulated makeup services must be performed within a licensed salon. But there are exceptions: no license is needed to do makeup for theatre, television, film or photography shoots.

“If I do bridal hair and makeup for a photoshoot that’s going to be published in a bridal magazine, that’s not illegal. I’m not working illegally. But if I do a wedding, without those licensures, I’m working illegally,” Rivers said.

Basically, Rivers can do photoshoots but she can’t do wedding or special event services under current law.

While Ms. Rivers is a licensed beautician, to keep doing her job she would need to do 4,000 more hours of salon manager training, which could take years.

“Why should we have to now jump through all these hoops and pay thousands of dollars to be able to do what we were already doing over here,” Rivers said.

Why indeed?

As I’ve written before, occupational licensing laws are about protecting producers, not consumers. They are also about state government shaking down practitioners for a few bucks.

Ms. Rivers and other stylists have filed a lawsuit with the Board of Cosmetology. They are are also pushing legislation which would allow them to continue doing private events. Let us hope they succeed.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.