Historic Licensing Reforms Driven by Women’s Foundation Research are Signed into Law

Bipartisan legislation will save women time and money

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – The Women’s Foundation today praised the signing of several measures to reform occupational licensing regulations and reduce barriers to economic opportunity in Missouri. Women’s Foundation proposed these provisions after commissioning research, funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, showing that these barriers have a disproportionate impact on women.

HB 1500 will allow hair braiders in Missouri to earn a living without obtaining a cosmetology license – saving them thousands in tuition costs. The law also makes Missouri the 15th state to adopt a Sunrise Law to prevent unreasonable and unnecessary occupational licensing burdens from needlessly restricting access to professions. 

“Our research found that unnecessary licensing regulations often become invisible barriers that can hold women back and make it harder for them to move up the economic ladder,” said Wendy Doyle, Women’s Foundation President & CEO. “No one should have to jump through costly and needless bureaucratic hoops just to earn a living. Today is a major milestone in our efforts to break down these barriers and use research-backed solutions to drive meaningful results. We are grateful to Speaker Richardson, Representative Dogan and others in the Legislature for championing reforms that will make a real difference for women and their families.”  

The Governor also signed HB 1719, which prohibits most state boards from denying a license to anyone 18 years or older on the basis of their age, and SB 843, which implements recommendations of the State of Missouri Boards and Commissions Task Force and repeals certain barriers to employment for interior designers. 

“Today Missouri policymakers sent a strong message that they are ready to lead the way on reforms that will stimulate entrepreneurship and expand economic opportunity,” said Kendall Seal, Women’s Foundation Vice President of Research & Policy and General Counsel. “We are thrilled our research informed this debate and drove meaningful policy change for women and their families.” 

Women’s Foundation research conducted in partnership with the University of Missouri Truman School of Public Policy found that occupational licensing, while intended to protect the safety and well-being of the public, can often create unnecessary barriers for women entrepreneurs by restricting entry and re-entry into professions, reducing employment, and creating economic inequity. 

For example, Missourians seeking to become hair braiders have been required to obtain a cosmetology license and attend beauty school, even though very little of the cosmetology school curriculum is relevant to that profession. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, average tuition at a cosmetology school in Missouri is $13,993. 
This research has informed a number of potential solutions put forward by Women’s Foundation, including reducing or waiving fees, requiring a cost-benefit analysis before any new licensing requirement is created and periodic reviews to determine if they are still necessary. 

Women’s Foundation promotes equity and opportunity for women of all ages, using research, philanthropy and policy solutions to make meaningful change. Learn more at www.womens-foundation.org.