Hair Cutters face higher licensing fees

When the state cuts the budget, legislators must balance their books in some way. In this case it’s on those in the hair stylists and other beauty services. Virginia officials want a bigger cut when barbers, hair stylists and other beauty-services professionals get their state licenses.

The Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology has proposed almost doubling the license fees for individuals and facilities it regulates.

Barbers, cosmetologists and nail technicians now pay $75 for a cosmetology license, which is valid for two years. The board wants to raise that to $140.

“It’s reflecting the increased cost of doing business,” said Mary Vaughn, the director of communications, legislation and consumer education at the state Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

The licensing fees for salons and other facilities also would jump – from $115 to $225. And the licensing fees for beauty schools would go from $145 to $255.

The Board for Barbers and Cosmetology says it needs the fee increases because the agency is self-supporting: It relies on fees – not taxes – to pay for all its operations, from inspectors’ salaries to website management.

“The idea is not that agencies like ours are charging such excessive fees and we run this huge cash balance,” Vaughn said. “The idea is you raise enough to do what you need to do and have enough of a cushion to adjust but not raise fees so excessively.”

The board recently added tattoo artists and aestheticians (who provide waxing and other services) to the professions it oversees. That has increased the agency’s costs.

It can take a long time for a fee increase to get final approval. As a result, the board must look four to eight years down the road when adjusting its fees.

The current proposal took two years to reach the executive branch review – the final stage of the approval process.

In April, the proposal was approved by Jim Cheng, Virginia’s secretary of commerce of trade. The licensing fee increases are now waiting for Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature. The higher fees would become effective immediately upon the governor’s approval.

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