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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 16, 2016 01:00 PM
From: Representative Dom Costa
To: All House members
Subject: State Board of Cosmetology Consumer Protection Package

In the near future, I intend to introduce two bills that will amend the Cosmetology Law (Act 86 of 1933) to change the composition of the State Board of Cosmetology, to further clarify the issuance of variances by the State Board of Cosmetology, to further provide for the allowance of residential and small business salon variances, to provide for a more clear definition of booth rental, to protect cosmetologists and barbers from discrimination by the State Board of Cosmetology based on criminal backgrounds, and to further emphasize required Sunshine procedures of the Board.

The first bill will change the composition of the State Board of Cosmetology (Board) from 13 members down to 9 members. The Board will consist of four members appointed by the Governor, four members appointed by the Legislative Caucus Leaders from the House and Senate (one each), and one member appointed by the Speaker of the House.

Currently, there are 13 members of the Board which comprises: the Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs within the Department of State; the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection within the Office of Attorney General; three public members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate; and eight professional members (who have had at least five years practical and/or managerial experience in the field of cosmetology and actively engaged in the profession) appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The second bill clarifies the definition of booth rental, which is strictly prohibited in Pennsylvania. In addition, the bill will address the issuance of variances by the Board. This legislation further clarifies what is already in statute regarding lavatories, but also expands on the definition to further allow for variances for residential salons and small businesses. This legislation further provides for the process of the board when deciding on a variance request. In an effort to address the current lack of transparency with regard to the issuance of variances, the Board will be required to provide a detailed explanation of its decision.

Finally, while background checks have never been part of a licensing requirement for barbers and cosmetologists in the past, in fact many incarcerated individuals have gained a second chance at an honest career outside of the system by learning trades while incarcerated including training as barbers and cosmetologists; the Department of State has now decided that barbers and cosmetologists should have to do a criminal background check as a prerequisite to obtaining a license. Consequently, the second bill in this legislative package will contain language to protect licensing boards that have background checks authorized in their specific Practice Acts (Medical, nursing, etc...). Thus, these boards could continue to do background checks as authorized for in their statute. However, for careers that do not have a specific authorization to do background checks in their Practice Act (Cosmetology, barber, etc...), then the Department of State would be prohibited from implementing one.

This legislation is necessary as it has been brought to my attention that the State Board of Cosmetology has not been operating in the capacity that it should. There have been concerns raised regarding the Board’s granting of a high volume of variances to local municipal building codes as well as Sunshine Law issues involving executive sessions of the Board. This overhaul of the Board will further enhance oversight of the Board, continued transparency and accountability as well as to provide greater consumer protection. In addition, this legislation protects small businesses, protects the integrity of the industry as well as protects individuals seeking licensure as barbers and cosmetologists against discrimination based on criminal background.

Please join me in co-sponsoring these important pieces of legislation.