FRANKFORT, Ky. — A group of nail technicians and salon owners want to make changes to how their industry is regulated. They have said the current system and oversight board is hurting businesses, which is why they support the passage of Senate Bill 14.

What You Need To Know

  • Nail technicians are requesting state regulation changes

  • They include allowing nail technician exams to be taken in languages other than English

  • Senate Bill 14 was filed earlier in the session

  • It has bipartisan support in the Senate

Despite snow and below-freezing temperatures, around two dozen people gathered Monday morning, Jan. 22, on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass this bill.

SB 14 would allow people to take the necessary exam to become a nail technician in languages other than English.

Lianna Nguyen, owner of Lianna’s Nail Academy, holds a sign urging lawmakers to vote for Senate Bill 14. (Spectrum News 1/Mason Brighton)

“It will give more people in the state of Kentucky an option to take it in [multiple languages] so they can have a higher chance of passing,” said Lianna Nguyen, nail technician and owner of Lianna’s Nail Academy.  

Former nail technician Michael Carter shares the same stance because several other exams, such as getting a driver's license, can be done in several other languages. 

“When we put it in Vietnamese, it’s to understand, do they really, really know the information that is important to go out here and practice safely on the public?” Carter said. “That's it.”

The bill would also reduce the waiting period for someone to retake their licensing exam — require a written warning about violations before a fine is given — and would add a nail tech to the board who oversees this industry. 

The Kentucky Board of Cosmetology would also be expanded from five people to seven.

“We need to make the board bigger so then we can have more yes and no's; so we can have more fairness in the beauty industry,” Nguyen said.

Spectrum News 1 reached out to the Kentucky Board of Cosmetology for this story as well. In a statement, the board’s attorney addressed each of the proposed changes laid out in the bill and said they oppose each of them. On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the board reached to Spectrum News 1 to share some feedback and suggestions.

The board says it doesn’t support changing the makeup of the board from five to seven members. Instead, they suggest supporting an alternative which would be “filled by a person holding either a cosmetology, esthetics or nail technician license.”

The board says it doesn’t want to get demographic metrics because “the information would not be useful to the board and unverifiable.” They also say it would be “unfair” to only offer foreign language exams for one license type, such as nail technicians.

The board says exam pass rates nationally are lower when taken in a foreign language than exams taken in English. 

SB 14 has bipartisan support in the Senate. Filed by State Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, it’s also co-sponsored by State Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, among others.

The bill has been given a committee assignment but has yet to be put on the calendar for further discussion.

“Of course, we care about public safety; of course we care about our customers," Nguyen said. "That's why we need these systemic barriers to be pushed down to help people, guide people, put people in a better place. And that's what we want."

In the House, Northern Kentucky State Rep. Steven Doan, R-Erlanger, has filed HB 184. It would abolish the Kentucky Cosmetology Board. Doan’s bill cites several reasons for this, including that the board “has exceeded its authority in its treatment of its licensees, particularly in its approach to licensed nail technicians.”