Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By MECHELE COOPER Kennebec Journal
GARDINER — Ken King dreamed of becoming a professional barber, but state licensing requirements stood in his way.
The rules said he could become a licensed barber only after completing a 2,500-hour apprenticeship.
The Gardiner man, a taxidermist, said he wanted to open a barber shop, but couldn't commit that much time as an apprentice. So he turned to Gov. Paul LePage for help.
"I emailed him in May and he responded almost immediately, within three or four days," King, 42, recalled. "They got a bill introduced that changed the barbering law so people like myself could get a license." It was signed into law the end of June.
The bill, L.D. 1560, allows licensed cosmetology schools such as the Capilo Institute in Augusta to offer limited barbering courses so people like King could get a license another way.
But even though the new took effect last year, King still can't become a barber. State officials were expected to write policy rules before the law took effect, but that never happened.
King said he doesn't understand the holdup, even as LePage and other government officials talk about the need to create more jobs in Maine.
Anthony Coco, president of the Capilo Institute, said several people who are interested in becoming licensed barbers have contacted the cosmetology school. But he has had to turn them away -- in some cases, to other states -- because of the holdup with the new law.
"We've actually been approved to offer the (barbering) program," Coco said. "There hasn't been any type of barbering classes in Maine for over 15 years."
King was frustrated enough that last year he called Jeri Betts, board administrator for the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
King said he was told the rules would be written by November. That was pushed back to December, then January, and most recently, by March.
King said he feels like he's getting the runaround.
Messages were left for Betts, who referred questions to Doug Dunbar, spokesman for the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
Dunbar said the legislation required rule-making and updates in several areas of barbering and cosmetology.
"The process, which involves a series of steps, including a public comment period, is moving forward, but it's a large undertaking," Dunbar said.
He said the department wants to make sure there are no unnecessary delays in rule-making. The policy will be issued this month, Dunbar said.
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Mechele Cooper can be contacted at 621-5663 or at: