Bill barring sale of ‘exotic hair coloring’ to minors hasn’t washed out of Legislature

Friday, May 14, 1999

Contrary to some news reports, Massachusetts state Rep. Thomas Kennedy has not withdrawn his bill outlawing the sale of exotic hair coloring to minors.
Instead, the measure remains in a House committee.

Introduced in December 1998, House Bill 1151 provides: “Whoever sells exotic hair coloring, so-called, to any person under the age of eighteen shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars for the first offense, not less than two hundred dollars for a second offense and not less than three hundred dollars for any third or subsequent offense.”

The bill does not define “exotic hair coloring.”

John Roberts, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the measure is “ill-conceived, poorly drafted and vague.”

“The bill is enormously problematic,” he said. “It is hard to even take it seriously.”

Roberts questioned how the bill would be enforced and how the term “exotic hair coloring” would be defined.

The measure was referred to the House Committee on Criminal Justice on Jan. 6. The committee held a public hearing on the bill on April 29, but according to legislative staffers, no one showed up to discuss it.

Kennedy was out of the office today, but both his secretary and chief of staff refuted any notion that the bill had been withdrawn.

April Norcross, Kennedy's secretary, said that despite published reports, the bill had not been withdrawn. “He has not withdrawn the bill; we don't know how those rumors got started,” she said.

Ken Collyer, Kennedy's chief of staff, also labeled any reports that the bill had been withdrawn as “inaccurate.”

Staffers for the House Committee on Criminal Justice confirmed that the bill remained in committee.

Collyer said that this was the third time that Kennedy had introduced a bill to outlaw the sale of exotic hair coloring to minors. He said the impetus for the bill came from a 1997 phone call from a woman whose 10-year-old niece had purchased exotic hair coloring to dye her hair either pink or orange. The girl's aunt, who was a hairdresser, unsuccessfully tried to remove the dye from her niece's hair.