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LINCOLN--Cosmetology salons could be on the road under a bill considered Jan. 17 by the Nebraska Legislature's Health and Human Service Committee. 

Legislative Bill 790, introduced by Sen. Laura Ebke from Crete, would provide for licensing of mobile cosmetology and nail technology salons. 

"It's an exciting piece of legislation that accidentally landed in my lap," Ebke said. 

Last summer, John Duncan, a salon owner in Lincoln, brought this idea to Ebke's attention. Duncan began practicing cosmetology in Lincoln in 1976. His salon is on the edge of Lincoln so individuals from rural communities drive to his location. However, Duncan said some of his older customers prefer to not drive as much anymore so he had a solution. He began to renovate an RV to create a mobile salon until he realized it legally wasn't allowed.

"I thought, wouldn't it be neat if I could go to them," Duncan said. 

The mobile unit would allow for Duncan to maintain a client relationship with his older clients while also using the unit to travel to locations of weddings to serve bridal parties. 

"There's no limit in what it can do as far as adding to my business," Duncan said. 

"Our goal here is to catch up with technology in the statutes," Ebke said.

In rural districts and small towns there sometimes aren't salons, and individuals might have to drive to the next big town, Ebke said. Mobile salons would open up an opportunity to try a new method of service. 

"I think there might be a little niche market for some people out there," Ebke said. "We want to empower people who have an entrepreneurial spirit to go out and try something different." 

Cosmetologists would be qualified for mobile licensing if their mobile unit passed the following criteria. The mobile cosmetology and nail salons would be motor homes that would be identified as salons open to the general public. The mobile home would need to be 150 square feet with an additional 50 square feet for each additional licensed cosmetologist using the space.

"You are going to have restrictions and rules that are similar but not the same," Ebke said. 

Thomas L. Williams, MD, the chief medical officer and director of the Division of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, attended the hearing and submitted a letter of support for the bill on behalf of the department. 

The letter said that because the department "currently licenses salons located in private homes and at public locations, the licensing of mobile salons would not create a large amount of additional work."

Williams suggested some changes to the bill. It currently states that it would require 30 days notice for remodeling or opening of a salon and five days notice for closure of a salon. 

"We would suggest removing this language, given other statutes do not mandate the time frame by which an application is to be submitted to the department," Williams' letter said. 

Ebke said she has worked with the Department of Health and Human Services to amend the bill based on their suggestions. 

The Health and Human Services Committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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