PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) – The billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and hair braider Jocelyn DoCouto have at least one thing in common. They are both part of a national movement to deregulate the business of African-style braiding.
DoCouto is pushing for legislation in Rhode Island that would exempt her from the cumbersome and costly licensing requirements for hairdressers and barbers.
DoCouto’s family is from Cape Verde and Senegal. She says braiding is part of her culture and the training and safety rules for cosmetologists aren’t relevant to what she does.
Leading the 25-year-old fight is the Koch-affiliated libertarian law firm Institute for Justice. It has lobbied some states and sued others to deregulate a practice passed down over generations.
Beauty schools oppose the effort, but Republican and Democratic lawmakers are increasingly backing the braiders.