Raleigh, N.C. — Maybe it was just the image of Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, a young first-term lawmaker and new father with straight-out-of-central-casting politician looks talking up a bill dealing with curlers and manicures that did it.
But a relatively simple proposal to create a license for mobile beauty salons prompted a good deal of ribbing before it cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday. The measure will next be heard by the chamber's Finance Committee.
"This is a bill that would not help small business but create small businesses," Jackson said, pointing out that mobile shops for hair stylists and other esthetic practitioners such as manicurists are not allowed in the state.
A constituent, he said, asked him to run the bill so they could open such a business.
"If someone wants to create this business, let's give it a shot," Jackson said. "Who am I to say it's crazy?"
A handful of other states, he said, have such licenses, including Florida, where they mainly serve older clients. The bill sets up certain regulations about the need for a bathroom on board the mobile shop, requirements for clean water and fees for licensing.
"The salon cannot provide services while moving," Jackson said.
That prompted Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, to chime in, "That's what happened to Sen. Gunn," prompting chuckles at the suggestion Alamance County Republican Rick Gunn's current appearance might have been influenced by hitting a pothole during a haircut.
Gunn retorted by saying, "If this does pass, it will certainly save Sen. Harrington time when she gets her highlights done," a quip that prompted groans and nervous giggles as Gaston County Republican Kathy Harrington looked on.
Somehow, that didn't top the humor.
"Mr. Chairman, in all seriousness, (Sen.) Tommy Tucker gets pedicures. I want to draw an amendment that he is not allowed on that mobile unit," Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph said.
That, in turn, prompted Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, to suggest such an amendment, "would have to go to (the Transportation Committee) to put on a weight limit."
After that, the discussion sobered up a bit. Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, said that he believed there are already some businesses operating, perhaps illegally, mobile beauty shops. The bill, he suggested, would give those businesses a way to operate legally.
The measure passed on a voice vote.