March 2012

LeAnne Velona

The Beauty Professional| by Fred Jones

 

Do Something FOR Your Industry

For the past decade, my organization has given a voice for our industry in the largest state in the Union. And we hope by our strong record of success we will be an example to the other 49 states to do likewise.

State organizing is crucial since most of the laws and regulations governing our industry are set at the state – not national or local – level of government.

The state of Indiana recently attempted to deregulate and remove licensure standards over the beauty industry. The proposed legislation was met by a concerted chorus of opposition by beauty professionals both in and outside the Indiana state boundaries.

The outcry was so loud the legislative author pulled his bill from consideration even before its first vote, representing a significant victory. But this brush with anarchy and unlicensed activity should serve as a wake-up call for industry stakeholders and behind-the-chair professionals. It wasn't the first of such efforts, and it certainly won't be the last.

When we began to organize all sectors of the beauty industry under one tent in California, we were given a valuable insight by a prominent State Legislator, who quipped: "Sacramento can either do things FOR you or TO you."

Those ominous words stuck with us, helping us understand the importance of being actively involved in the policy and regulatory setting arena.

While every state has a different political landscape – some with part-time Legislatures, others meeting year-round, some with boards solely dedicated to regulating beauty while others share oversight responsibilities for several various industries – the fact remains that state governments set licensure standards.

As such, it is imperative that we actively engage state officials to help them better understand the dynamic nature of the world of beauty and influence the rules imposed on schools, stylists, salons, and product producers.

Getting involved in the rough 'n tumble world of state politics can be exciting, but it can also be labor-intensive. As the comedian, Woody Allen, once observed: "Ninety percent of life is just showing up." Well, in the ever-churning legislative "sausage mills" of our 50 State Houses, it's looking like he's got it right!

Every policy reform initiative or regulation must go through a series of public hearings and debates. Supporters and opponents have many opportunities to speak their minds; if their arguments are cogent and convincing, they can impact the proposal as it makes its way through this publicly accessible process.

These ever-changing amendments to legislation led one historic politician to offer this word of caution to legislative sponsors: "You should never fall in love with your bill." In many cases, if the bill ever becomes law, the final product doesn't even resemble the introduced version.

So, an integral part of actively engaging at the state level is to have committed "boots on the ground" within each state. If your particular industry sector (e.g., stylists, salon owners, schools, etc.) already has a state organization in place, join it and help raise its sites.

We need industry professionals and stakeholders to form alliances within each state, develop a clear set of acceptable principles and policy-oriented goals that all industry sectors can embrace, and then make sure someone is present at each stage of the legislative and rule-making processes to articulate those principles.

In California, we were able to pool our resources to retain professional representation for such public hearings and behind-the-scenes advocacy. In smaller states, these lobbying duties will likely fall upon the individual stakeholders. Regardless, having a confident and well-versed spokesperson speaking up before, during and following these crucial public hearings is an essential element of making sure your state capital does something FOR your industry, not TO it.

Many national-in-scope industry stakeholders have begun to realize the importance of impacting state laws and regulations. They have committed themselves to assisting industry professionals within each of the 50 states to organize, so that all of us can be speaking with a united and strong voice where most of the legal and regulatory action is: state governments.

If you are inspired to get involved, I am pleased to let you know that my organization is willing to assist in this worthy endeavor, too, where and when we can. If nothing else, we hope our record of accomplishment in Sacramento the past decade serves as inspiration to others to seize the opportunity to control our industry's destiny.

If you have specific questions on how you may get started, or what to do once you have gotten some folks around a table ready to move forward, feel free to contact me.

If you are passionate about beauty; if you are committed to raising the professionalism of this industry; and if you want to make a real difference … consider forming a state association of like-minded colleagues across all industry sectors and jump into the political sausage mill with both feet!

Fred Jones serves as Legal Counsel to the Professional Beauty Federation of California, a trade association singularly dedicated to raising the professionalism of the beauty industry. To learn more about the PBFC and receive further details about the subjects contained in his column, go to www.beautyfederation.org.