by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Arizona’s Republican governor sent a letter condemning the state’s cosmetology board for launching an investigation into a student who gives free haircuts to the homeless because he does not have a state-issued cosmetology license.
Juan Carlos Montesdeoca, who used to be homeless, has been going to a Tucson park to give haircuts to homeless individuals, some of whom haven’t had their hair cut in years. The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology alerted Montesdeoca in January that it was investigating an anonymous complaint that he was performing the service without a license, as required by state law.
Now Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is sticking up for Montesdeoca, calling on the board to end the “outrageous” investigation in a letter.
“The fact that one of our own citizens is volunteering his time and talents in an effort to help those who need it, is exactly the kind of citizenship we should be encouraging and celebrating,” Ducey wrote. “I find this outrageous, and I call on you to end your investigation.”
Montesdeoca told a local news station that he gives the haircuts “out of the kindness of [his] heart” and “out of the memory of [his] mom, because she lost her hair.”
He is working to obtain his cosmetology license, but worries the free haircuts he gave could jeopardize his application to the board.
“They can suspend–even before I even try to get a license, they can say no,” he said. “That would be very very unfortunate.”
The board would not comment on Montesdeoca’s case, but said it stands by the statute that states “a person shall not perform or attempt to perform cosmetology without a license or practice in any place other than in a licensed salon.”
Ducey wrote that Montesdeoca was being stifled by the “heavy hand of government.”