Mississippi should abolish the Board of Barber Examiners, says a new report from the state legislature. Mississippi’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee – or PEER committee – has proposed that both the Barber Board and the Cosmetology Board be dissolved.
This is great news. It is absurd that Mississippi has more restrictive practices in place limiting the number of barbers than most other states. As the PEER report says, the Barber board is not very good at what it does; "the Board examination practices are not very effective at evaluating a candidate’s effectiveness."
Nor, suggests the report, is the Board particularly well run.
With fewer than four out of 10 applicants approved for a license last year, some might suggest that the barber board exists to limit the number of people able to operate as barbers. This is just to sort of restrictive practice Mississippi needs to do away with.
"But what about the dangers of unlicensed barbers?!" some will shriek. "How will Mississippi manage without a Board of Barber Examiners?"
Curiously, the Barber Examiner Board doesn’t seem to have been that into examining. In 2022, the Board’s inspectors only conducted 191 inspections of the 2,134 barber shops and schools licensed by the Board. If the vast majority of barbers could cope without an inspection, why have an inspection board at all?
Why does this new report matter? Actually, this is about much more than barbers. It is about a new Mississippi mindset.
For years, economic and business activity in our state has been regulated by vested interests entrenched in the local bureaucracy. This latest report is based on a realization that things do not have to be that way.
If we can cope without a Barber board, we might not need dozens of other regulators and boards, such as the Charter School Authorizer board, whose main activity seems to be to say ‘no’.
Interestingly, the report cites Mississippi’s new universal licensing law as a reason for reform. With it now much easier for those that have obtained certification out of state to get permission to practice in Mississippi, our homegrown restrictive practices are all the more evident.
Change is coming, and hopefully, it will sweep away more than just the Barber Board.