SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers struggled to keep straight faces during the presentation of a bill preserving the rights of barbers to offer a brief massage at the end of a haircut.
Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, presented SB172 on Thursday to the House Business and Labor Committee. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, sets rules for a barber or hairstylists to offer a gentle massage of the head and shoulders.
"All we are doing is saying that barbers can continue giving little massages, post-haircut," Roberts said.
Candace Daly, a spokeswoman for the Utah Beauty Association, spoke in support of the bill, saying it would simply clarify what hairstylists are licensed to do in their practice.
Daly said the legislation stems from a lobbyist who went to get a haircut and saw a sign notifying customers that massages would not be allowed, due to a cease and desist order from the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.
Ron Findlay, a representative for Utah Massage Professionals, said he did not oppose the measure but wanted to reintroduce previously stricken language in the bill that sets the duration of a massage.
"Everybody loves that head massage," Findlay said. "The issue is safety to the consumer."
Findlay said there's no "turf" issue between barbers and massage therapists, but he wanted to ensure consumer safety by explaining that barbers can offer only a brief massage, unlike licensed massage therapists who provide more engaged, deep-tissue therapy.
Regulation is a "slippery slope," he said.
Rep. Susan Duckworth, D-Magna, expressed her support for the measure preserving head massages, noting that it was the reason her father would get haircuts twice a week despite having only a tuft of hair on his head.
SB172 received unanimous support from the committee and was forwarded to the House for further consideration. It previously passed the Senate with a 28-1 vote.