DeSantis vetoes unanimously supported bill easing criminal history restrictions for barber and cosmetology licenses

by | Jun 27, 2024



Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed unanimously passed legislation that aimed to amend the criminal history review process for barbers and cosmetologists, citing concerns about the bill’s selective application.


Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill on Wednesday that sought to amend the criminal history review process for individuals seeking licensure as barbers and cosmetologists, despite its unanimous passage in both the House and Senate.

The bill, House Bill 133, proposed to reduce the look-back period for criminal convictions from five years to three years and mandated the recognition of vocational training credits earned by inmates for licensure purposes.

In his veto message, DeSantis raised concerns about the selective application of the bill’s provisions and noted that the legislation singles out cosmetologists and barber license applicants from a broader list of 14 different types of business licenses, altering the licensing board’s process of reviewing criminal records specifically for these professions.

The governor questioned the rationale behind this selective focus, positing an importance of consistent approach to evaluating applicants across all professions.

The bill proposed to prohibit state regulators from reviewing an applicant’s criminal history within three years of applying for licensure. DeSantis contended that there could be valid reasons for the board to access this information before deciding on an applicant’s eligibility, highlighting the necessity for thorough evaluations to maintain high standards in the professional licensing system.

“HB 133 singles out cosmetologist and barber applicants from a list of 14 types of business license applicants to change the licensing board’s process of review of criminal records,” DeSantis wrote. “The bill categorically prohibits the board from considering an applicant’s criminal history within three years of the application for a license, but there may be good reason for the board to have this information before making a decision regarding a particular applicant.”

The legislation, which garnered unanimous support in the House and Senate, was intended to provide a more streamlined path to licensure for individuals with older criminal convictions and to support the reintegration of former inmates by recognizing vocational training completed during incarceration. Proponents argued that the bill would help address workforce shortages in the barbering and cosmetology industries and reduce recidivism by providing meaningful employment opportunities.

“I am extremely disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this bill and deny former non-violent offenders, who have done their time, the opportunity to more easily obtain a license in barbering or cosmetology. This is about second chances,” said Sen. Linda Stewart. “It is unjust that continue to punish people for the mistakes made in their past and prevent them from earning a living in the future. This bill could have been vital to someone’s future livelihood and helped to reduce recidivism.”

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