Forty four-year industry veteran John Halal began his career as a hairstylist, then salon and school owners. Now the director of education for Tricoci University, Halal applies his talents and passion to educating beauty professionals and advocating for laws and regulations to improve our great industry.

An active participant in the industry, Halal sits on the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) State Relations Committee for Indiana and Illinois, is President of the Indianan Cosmetology and Barbering Association (ICBA), and is an industry advocate through the PBA State Captain program. When recent deregulation legislation was introduced in Indiana, Halal stepped up to help educate law makers in that state on the importance of licensing to keep consumers and professionals safe.

PBA sat down with Halal to talk about his work on deregulation and other legislation affecting the industry:

PBA:  Why did you get involved in the PBA State Captain Program?

Halal: PBA offered their support to oppose HB 1006 that would have deregulated cosmetology in Indiana. We couldn’t have succeeded without PBA support.

PBA:  What other organizations or groups have you partnered with to find a solution?

Halal: The American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) and the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) have provided their support and help. The ICBA has also hired Frank Short, a lobbyist, from Short Strategy to provide professional support.

PBA:  What current issues are you working in Indiana?

Halal: Although we managed to stop deregulation last year, a new bill to deregulate cosmetology, SB520, was introduced in January of 2013, so this fight is far from over. It may seem as though we are back where we started, but we are far more prepared this year than last.

PBA: What actions have you taken against SB520? Why is it important to fight this kind of legislation?

Halal: Although the ICBA was unable to stop SB520, or have cosmetology permanently removed from the bill before it passed in the Senate, the ICBA was able to add an amendment that postponed the review scheduled for July of 2013 until 2016.

This three year delay eliminates the immediate threat of deregulation and gives us time to continue to work proactively with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA) to make meaningful improvements to our regulations.

PBA: What tactics have been successful in combating the bill? What has been your main challenge?

Halal: Deregulation was defeated last year as a direct result of the response from licensed beauty professionals in Indiana. The committee members hearing the bill received over 30,000 letters, emails and phone calls in opposition. Over 1,000 people attended the committee hearing and our collective opposition was heard.

Our biggest challenge was the reinstatement of our Indiana State Association. The Indiana Cosmetology Educators Association (ICEA) had been dissolved due to inaction over the last several years. Our first task was to reinstate the ICEA as a nonprofit corporation and change the name to the Indiana Cosmetology and Barbering Association (ICBA) to better represent all segments of the beauty industry. The ICBA Board of Directors and general membership now includes cosmetologists, estheticians, manicurists, barbers, salons, schools, manufacturers and distributors within the beauty industry.

Our second biggest challenge was communicating our opposition to deregulation without any contact information for the professionals in Indiana. Securing an email list for all licensed professionals in your state should be a top priority, so that you will have it when you need it.

PBA: How do you work with your state legislators? What is your relationship like with them?

Halal: The ICBA is working hard to earn the confidence and support of the Indiana State Legislature. The ICBA hired a professional lobbyist, Frank Short, and were pleased to have been able to convince our Senators to pass an amendment to postpone the evaluation of cosmetology and barbering from 2013 to 2016. Deregulation would have occurred on July 1, 2013, had we not been able to secure the postponement. This was not easy to accomplish and is a definite win that we should all celebrate.

Establishing a positive, effective strategy with our state legislators should be our first line of defense against deregulation. Positive forward movement is better than negative opposition.

PBA: How have you successfully worked with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency?

Halal: The ICBA has been working proactively with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA) for over a year to make meaningful improvements in our regulations.

We have already been able to combine some license types to reduce the number of licenses required for both individuals and salons. We have also obtained pre-graduate testing and will continue to work with the IPLA to improve licensing regulations, including the return of mandatory continuing education.

PBA: What is HB1477? How will HB1477 benefit the cosmetology industry in Indiana?

Halal: HB1477 passed the House on February 11, 2013. HB 1477 is the result of a year-long collaboration of the Indiana Cosmetology and Barbering Association (ICBA) and the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA). HB 1477 provides us with the opportunity to make meaningful changes to our regulations that will benefit the entire cosmetology and barbering industry. Hopefully, it is a starting point to raise awareness of the good work we all do on a daily basis.

HB1477 combines some licenses to reduce the total number of licenses required, thereby reducing paperwork and licensing fees for both individuals and salons. HB1477 also includes pre-graduate testing that will eliminate the delay between graduating from school and obtaining a license. Graduates will receive their license on the day they graduate from school and may work in a salon immediately. The ICBA will continue to work with the IPLA for the return of mandatory continuing education and a review and streamlining of all regulations. Click Here to read HB 1477.

PBA: What tactics were successful in getting HB1477 heard and considered?

Halal: Although we were able to defeat a similar Bill to deregulate cosmetology in 2012, everyone knew that it would be back on the table in 2013. The ICBA had established enough credibility with the IPLA that they contacted us to find a workable solution to deregulation. HB1477 is the start of that process.

It wasn’t difficult to obtain support from the legislators and the Governor, once we had the full support of the IPLA. It may not always seem like it, but reason and cooperation are far more productive than emotions and opposition.

PBA: How has PBA supported your efforts in Indiana?

Halal: PBA has been a true partner in all our activities since the initial attempt at deregulation in 2012. PBA sent out Action Alerts, electronically and by mail, to all the licensed professionals in Indiana to garner support for opposing deregulation. We couldn’t have succeeded without PBA’s help.

When licensed professionals do get an opportunity to speak with their representatives or their licensing agency, what they say and what they don’t say is vitally important. PBA crafted the Talking Points that provided a unified, rational message in opposition to deregulation that can be used by professionals all over the country.

The ICBA and the PBA are working together in support of HB1477. This provides us with an incredible opportunity to make meaningful changes in our state regulations.

About PBA Government Affairs

The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) advocates for the rights of every member and is dedicated to tracking, introducing and responding to legislation at both the state and federal levels with potential to affect the beauty industry. Along with our Government Advocacy program, PBA provides our members with Education, Signature Events, Charitable Outreach, Research and Business Resources. Visit probeauty.org for more information.