Since May, we've been following the story of hairstylists who say the Texas Cosmetology Commission has been very heavy handed -- issuing large fines for small rules violations.
Today, leaders of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation told stylists in Tyler things will change when they absorb the Cosmetology Commission September 1st. But so far, no specifics on which rules will stay or go.
William Kuntz, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation: "This meeting today is part of the strategic planning process. We find out what has been done right, what has been done better. And the questions we get into now is, if you were king for a day, what change would you make?"
Stylists we spoke with at the meeting say they feel good about the future, but want the harsh rules to change, and some of the fines to be forgiven. So what are those rules stylists say should go? At a salon in Tyler where workers state inspectors are giving big fines for things that aren't a real threat to public health, they say it could start costing all of us more. "You're dictated to when you can be here and when you're not. And they have the option to fine you."
At Curl Up and Dye, Debi Smith's hours must not only be posted at her station, but she says adhered to rigidly. And if she leaves the premises... "We'd have to leave a note," she says. "We would have to technically call [the Texas Cosmetology Commission], and say we're going to be gone this time." Or she could be fined.
Valerie says while the new shop isn't large, binders of documents on styling chemicals can't be stored at a front filing cabinet -- which would be convenient. "This is one big notebook," Valerie Frazee says. "And we have one for the shop, but they require us to have each one at our station."
From the levels of the Barbicide to the dust in the light fixtures, owner Sharon Ainsworth says inspectors have been overzealous, and fines have been immediate with no warning. She says unlike most violations in restaurants. "You're going to tell me that [restauranteurs] go in and dust and clean every time, because the dust can come down on your food. But we're being cited for the dust," she says. "We can be fined for having lint in the back of the [hair] dryer which we pull out of the air," says Smith. "If [the hair dryer air intake] is not clean... I can be fined for what little lint is in there or what little speck of hair is in there."
These workers say they run a clean shop, but until rules change, they'll be extra careful to clean with a fine tooth comb. Because fines hike prices, and cut into the bottom line. Again, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation take over rulemaking and enforcement on September 1. Stylists aren't expecting rules changes overnight.
Reported by Morgan Palmer. firstname.lastname@example.org