Walker Approves Koch Bills to Loosen Licensing

November 29, 2017

GOP bills backed by a Koch brothers group, which loosen education requirements for barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists and others, were signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Monday.

Senate Bills 108 and 109, were modeled after proposals developed by a corporate bill mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC hawks pro-business economic and social policy proposals to state legislators around the country.

SB108 eliminates continuing education requirements for barbers, cosmetologists, aestheticians, manicurists, and electrologists, except for disciplinary reasons. It also ditches a requirement that these professionals have at least 4,000 hours of licensed experience if they move from another state to work in Wisconsin. The new law also requires license applicants to take a one-hour course on Wisconsin laws and rules that apply to their profession.

SB108’s sole backer was Americans for Prosperity, a secretive rightwing ideological electioneering group funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

SB109 permits the practice of cosmetology, aesthetics, manicuring, and barbering outside of a licensed establishment if the licensee owns, manages, or works for a licensed establishment. Under current law, those professionals may only practice outside of a licensed establishment to serve clients who are homebound, or in a hospital, nursing home, or prison. The new law also eliminates a separate license required for cosmetology and barbering managers.

SB109 had only two backers – Americans for Prosperity and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, another Koch-backed rightwing group that began lobbying in Wisconsin this year. It is reportedly one of the Lone Star state’s most powerful conservative lobbying groups.

Neither of these groups has made direct campaign contributions to Wisconsin candidates, but Americans for Prosperity has spent an estimated $5.7 million since January 2010 to support conservative and Republican legislative and statewide candidates in Wisconsin.

ALEC was created in the 1970s and is made up of powerful special interests and state legislators who create and exchange model legislation that can be introduced in statehouses across the country. ALEC has also received funding from the Koch brothers, and Koch Industries is a member of ALEC.