Rep. Jan Tankersley introduced a bill that will become law July 1 to streamline how barbers and cosmetologists are regulated in Georgia.
House Bill 314 merges the Georgia State Board of Barbers with the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology, which regulates cosmetologists who may work as manicurists and provide skin care services, in addition to styling hair. Until now, these boards have had separate rules and procedures, but both were hosted by the Secretary of State's Office.
"This bill is an excellent example of the type of government efficiency our constituents elected us to carry out," Tankersley said in a press release. "It streamlines the licensing process, improves the board's functionality and uses state resources more effectively. Not only are we saving taxpayer dollars, but we are saving their time, which proves to be an even more valuable asset."
With two different boards and rules, delays sometimes occurred in handling complaints or citations, she explained in an interview.
"That merged board can appoint subcommittees to meet in a more timely manner, and it's also going to streamline the licensing process," Tankersley said.
In 2013 she served on a House study committee that looked at unifying the two boards. Members of the boards themselves then worked out the details, the Brooklet Republican said.
Both boards voted in December to request the legislation necessary for a merger.
After the bill passed with only three nays in the House and none in the Senate, Gov. Nathan Deal signed it May 12.
The same standards
One effect of the merger should be a shared set of sanitation and equipment sterilization standards for cosmetologists and barbers, said Jeff Shaver, lead cosmetology instructor at Ogeechee Technical College.
"It's going to hold us to the same standards. ...," Shaver told the Statesboro Herald. "It should be a great thing for both cosmetology and barbering." Sanitation and sterilization are important considerations in businesses where, he said, a goal is to "protect the public at all costs."
But the common standards will not mean that cosmetology and barbering themselves are merging into a single industry, Shaver observed.
One obvious difference is that barbers learn their trade in barbering schools; cosmetologists graduate from cosmetology schools or programs such as Ogeechee Tech's.
Cosmetologists have a broader purview, receiving education to work with hair, skin and nails. But barbers tend to focus more on precise hair-cutting skills with clippers, Shaver said, while cosmetologists do more with chemical products and strive for artistry with sheers and razors.
He noted that many women go to barbers - "they love the detail of the haircut with the barber" - just as many men now frequent salons operated by cosmetologists.
"So it doesn't make us the same," Shaver said. "It just helps us to fall under the same standards for sterilization, sanitation and trying to get both of us to work together for the greater good of the industries."
The Georgia Secretary of State's Office website lists 42 boards and advisory groups that the agency hosts for the regulation of professions or business endeavors. These range from accountancy to water and wastewater treatment and from optometry to electrical contractors.
So House Bill 314 will reduce that count to 41 by creating a Board of Cosmetology and Barbers.
The Board of Cosmetology met 24 times and the Board of Barbers eight times in 2014, as counted from the meeting minutes available on the office's website, http://sos.ga.gov.
Each board had an executive director. But the merger will not result in a staff reduction, since each full-time executive director works with multiple boards, said Jared Thomas, press secretary to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. It should allow the same number of staff members to be more effective, Thomas said.
Kemp attended the governor's signing of the bill, as did other staff members, Tankersley, and Cosmetology Board Chairperson Theresa Kay Kendrick and Barber Board Chairperson David Jones.
Kemp was quoted in the press release thanking Tankersley "for her tremendous work and leadership as she successfully guided House Bill 314 through the General Assembly" and onto the governor's desk.
"The merger of the Barber and Cosmetology Boards will save hundreds of staff hours and help these professionals get into the workforce faster," Kemp said. "Because of her hard work, the people of Georgia have a new law that provides for a better and more efficient Georgia government."
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.