Bill from Governor’s Office Would Strip Licensing Requirements for Several Professions

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Governor's Office is proposing changes to Iowa’s licensing process.  The current bill would remove licensing requirements for everything from giving massages and cutting hair, to social work and counseling.

Barber Jay Wendt says he’s worried about what this could mean for his industry.

“It’s scary to think about a barber out their cutting without proper sanitation, and that’s stuff that you learn when you get licensed; the different things to be safe in a shop if something happens” said Wendt.

Like Wendt, massage therapists and those in other industries mentioned in House Study Bill 138 are worried about what this bill means for their professions.

“Not only does it saturate the market, but it diminishes the credibility of a lot of people who have gone to school or have taken the time to get that proper education” said Wendt.

The Governor’s Office says Iowa is the highest licensed state in the country, and its expense prevents people from entering the workforce.

“This negatively impacts women, minorities, lower income Iowans. We need to address these barriers to entry that licensing causes” said Communications Director Ben Hammes.

However, people in fields related to health like massage therapy say the bill is a barrier to staying in business, as insurance companies won’t cover trips to an unlicensed provider.

“By deregulating you’re going to impact the respectability and integrity of the industry, and that’s what allows insurance companies to feel comfortable recognizing massage as a legitimate healthcare” said massage therapist Zachary Flick.

The Governor’s Office says this bill is in the early stages, and the details involving competency and insurance will be hammered out in committee meetings.

“We can insure people are properly certified, we have insurance laws that are on the books that insure we are putting people in the workforce; we just thought it was time to have an initial conversation about licensing” said Hammes.

But barbers like Wendt, who spent over 2,000 hours in barbering school, and over $20,000 for his education, say those promises aren't comforting.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face, like what was my year worth of school worth, does that just mean nothing now? Is it the same as the person that took a weekend class and paid $40 to register or whatever it will be? It does its job to keep the safety with the profession. That’s the most important thing…it’s mind blowing” said Wendt.

Other industries that would have their licensing requirements stripped include athletic trainers, dietitians, funeral directors, and respiratory care practitioners.