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State Sen. Rivers: Controversial salon bill could be dead on arrival

(AP)

The saga surrounding a proposed bill that would raise taxes for cosmetologists and barbers continues to drum up controversy, following impassioned testimony in front of the state Legislature on Monday. Now, a former supporter of the bill, Republican State Senator Ann Rivers, is speaking out against it.

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“What I heard from people across the board, was largely people saying ‘I’m a good business person,’ ‘I do this because I love it, because I want the flexibility,’ ‘I pay my taxes, I love my state,’ ‘I want to see things go in the right direction,’ [and] ‘this is a real slap in the face,'” Rivers told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

Senate Bill 5326 has gone through a few iterations since it was first introduced. In its initial form, it only included cosmetologists, and made it illegal for a salon to rent out booths to stylists (a practice that’s the norm in the industry).

Amendments to the bill later included barbers as well, while axing the section that made it illegal to rent booths. In its current form, it mainly removes select exemptions for booth renters related to unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, and B&O taxes.

On Monday, hundreds of barbers, stylists, and cosmetologists flooded the state Legislature to provide testimony on the bill, largely united against its passing.

“If the intent of this bill is to level the playing field, it may mean my family doesn’t eat, or have a home to live in,” said one Moses Lake stylist during Monday’s testimony. “I feel you have targeted us as an industry, predominantly female, and that is not okay.”

As for why Rivers originally supported the legislation — and why her name is actually on the bill as a cosponsor — for her, presenting a bill in the first place is the best way to suss out its viability.

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“A bill gets brought forward, it gives us an opportunity to hear all of the concerns,” she noted. “Sometimes you have to put the legislation on the table and have a full vetting.”

Moving forward, she made it clear that she will not be voting in favor of the bill if it ever comes to that, but also posited that the odds of it moving out of the Labor and Commerce Committee are slim.

“I am in the camp that believes this bill probably won’t be leaving committee,” she said.

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