Bipartisan scorn for barbering board’s style of grading potential licensees

The Kansas Board of Barbering ran into problems at a joint House and Senate committee hearing on proposed rules allowing the board to offer a preliminary assessment of whether a person's civil or criminal history could disqualify them for a state license. This shop in Lawrence is operated by Rep. Mike Amyx, a Democrat in the Kansas House. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
The Kansas Board of Barbering ran into problems at a joint House and Senate committee hearing on proposed rules allowing the board to offer a preliminary assessment of whether a person's civil or criminal history could disqualify them for a state license. This shop in Lawrence is operated by Rep. Mike Amyx, a Democrat in the Kansas House. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Republican and Democratic legislators share dismay at Kansas Board of Barbering’s process for reviewing criminal or civil records to determine whether a person is likely to be granted a state license to work in the field.

The concern emerged during a routine hearing before a Legislature’s joint administrative committee, which has the tedious job of analyzing a long list of recommended amendments to state agency rules and regulations.

Cassiopeia Capps, administrative officer of the state barbering board, kicked off the meeting at the Capitol by describing how the board would handle a law allowing people with court records to seek an informal advisory opinion about whether their past might interfere with being awarded a state license after completion of educational requirements.

“Every review the board would do is a case-by-case basis,” she said.

Rep. Ron Highland, a Wamego Republican, said he was vexed that a state licensing and regulatory board would predetermine whether someone who paid their debt to society had the character to handle clippers and scissors of the barbering trade.

“I’m concerned we are eliminating possible employment for a lot of people with some of the regulations being passed not just by this group but others as well,” Highland said.

In 2019, Highland took exception to a barbering regulatory bill rejected by the Kansas House that would have imposed a $1,000 fine against anyone using a barber pole or its facsimile at a location where people weren’t licensed to provide haircuts.

Another member of the committee on rules and regulations, Wichita Democratic Rep. John Carmichael, said the process relied on by the barbering board appeared to involve too much subjectivity and not enough formal consideration of specific disqualification factors.

“I think you’re going to find yourself in court soon or later,” said Carmichael, an attorney.

Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Parker Republican and chairwoman of the joint committee, said she was uneasy with the direction taken by the barbering board. She said the system devised by the barbering board appeared to be constructed to penalize people a second time by deterring them from seeking a state barbering license despite dealing with legal challenges.