State Representative Angela Rigas, R-Alto, is speaking out against a bill recently passed House Bill that would alter the frequency of state regulatory licensing inspections of barber shops and barber colleges from “annually” to “regularly.”

Rigas, a freshman legislator with more than 25 years’ experience as a professional stylist, told The Midwesterner that House Bill 4647 “opens the door to both government overreach and government negligence at once. Even for Democrats that’s a record,” she said.

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HB 4647 was sponsored by Democrat Reps. Abraham Aiyash, Carrie Rheingans, Ranjeev Puri, Donavan McKinney, Kelly Breen, and Noah Arbit.

“It’s our job to restrict government’s power over the people [rather than] remove their guardrails and invite them into your businesses,” Rigas added.

In a news release, the representative pointed out the legal battles encountered by 77-year-old Owosso barber Karl Manke when he refused to comply with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic executive orders that declared barber shops “nonessential” businesses.

Manke’s refusal to comply with the governor’s EO not only resulted in a Shiawassee County prosecutor charging him with criminal misdemeanor violations but as well prompted legal proceedings from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and licensing actions from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

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In October 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court, however, subsequently declared Whitmer’s EOs issued after April 30, 2020.

Rigas noted the broader language of HB 4647 could open the door to either harassment or neglect depending on the whims of the agency executing the inspections.

In remarks given on the House floor, Rigas said: “I rise today to speak against this bill – and I do that as both an elected representative and a professional stylist for the last 25 years. In my long career cutting hair, I’ve seen firsthand how these small businesses and the government interact… Words like ‘regularly’ are not specific enough for professional barbers, stylists and shop owners.”

Rigas’ comments spurred one Democrat to vote against the bill.

“We flipped a Dem! One voted against the bill in support of our argument,” she told The Midwesterner. “That is a huge deal in Lansing right now. This recent surge of Democrat support on Republican issues shows that this ‘majority’ is actually a severely divided group of distrusting and separate factions. Speaker Tate has tried to keep that quiet. But this week it was on display loud and clear.”

Rigas’ news release echoes her sentiment.

“We’ve been seeing increased support from the more rational Democrats lately, and it’s encouraging,” Rigas said. “Whether it was the NO vote with me today or Rep. Whitsett’s courage to kill that terrible abortion package, progress is being made. Good ideas and good arguments deserve to win out no matter the party. I’m glad to see that collaborative attitude manifesting so strongly amongst so many of my colleagues.”