If you were worried that North Carolina legislators would run out of things to regulate, you can rest assured—barber poles are the latest and greatest regulatory target. Really, we are not joking. Senate Bill 25–An Act Providing That Only Barbers May Use the Striped Barber Pole as a Means of Advertisement–is a real bill. The new Senate rules don’t limit the number of bills a member can submit, but if they did there is no way that sponsor Sen. Doug Berger (D-Franklin) would be wasting time on this bill.
This regulation is a “solution” in search of a problem. In some parts of Asia barber poles can be used to advertise brothels. A quick search of the news reveals no mentions of brothels masquerading as barbershops in North Carolina. If brothel/barbershop mix-ups were a common problem, we would know about it. Any self respecting media organization would be in a hurry to cover such an event.
Furthermore, prostitution is already illegal in North Carolina and has been for a long time. So if one day an unlikely brothel/barbershop police raid does occur there is already a legal framework in place to deal with the problem. The fact that a brothel was using a barber pole to advertise erotic services would only be a minor detail and the class 3 misdemeanor that could result would be the least of the defendant’s problems.
SB 25 is just regulation for the sake of regulation. Barbers already face licensing restrictions and this bill just creates one more barrier to entry. Regulations, like this one, that do not directly address the health and safety of the public only raise prices and prohibit competition.
Sen. Doug Berger needs to get his priorities straight. North Carolina has a multibillion state budget hole to deal with. Wasting time on unnecessary barber pole regulation is an insult to the citizens of North Carolina. For this reason Civitas is proud to give Sen. Berger the honor of being the author of SB 25, the very first bad bill of the 2011-2012 session.