News Story

1,200 Hours To Be a Lawyer, But 2,000 To Be a Barber

New bill would repeal haircut licensing standards

Lee McGrath says a lawyer must spend 1,200 hours in the classroom to be eligible to become an attorney in Michigan. Yet, to be a barber in Michigan, someone must spend 2,000 hours in training.

McGrath, the legislative counsel at The Institute for Justice, used that example to highlight how licensing laws in the state are job killers and increase costs to consumers.

“The important thing to realize is it is the licensees who benefit from licensure,” McGrath said. “They get to raise their prices from the reduced competition. Consumers benefit much more from a competitive marketplace.”

Rep. Tom McMillian, R-Rochester, introduced House Bill 5517 which would repeal all license mandates on barber school, barber colleges and barbers.  McMillin said he got the idea for the bill after Gov. Rick Snyder mentioned in his 2012 State of the State address that there were laws regulating the size of barber shops’ garbage cans.

According to the state, the application fee is $75 and the licensing fee is $150 per year for a barber college.

For a barbers’ license, the state said the application fee is $20 and the licensing fee is $30. There are 4,959 barbers licensed in the state.  The barber college license statute states that they must provide 250 hours of classroom study and 1,750 hours of practical barber training for barbers.

“When it gets right down to it, somebody has to answer this for me, ‘Why should the state license barbers?’ ” McMillin asks.

Michigan Barber School Director Darryl Green said he was “in shock” legislation could wipe out the licensee requirements.

“It does have a lot to do with public health,” Green said. “I’m not saying we are as important as doctors, but we are the closest you can get. We are turning this into the Wild, Wild West. It’s not important? OK. I’d like to see them get a haircut in a barber shop five years from now. It will be like rolling the dice.”

McGrath said health concerns are “always the pretext for maintaining an anti-competitive law supported by licensees.”

McMillin said no one is stopping barber shops from hiring barbers that complete 2,000 hours of training. He said those that don’t may suffer the consequences of poor service.

“It’s more of a buyer-beware,” McMillin said. “If they don’t like the way they cut their hair, you can go to another barber.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.