Mississippi's cosmetology students caught in political fight

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The unemployment rate continues to be a big story around America and in Mississippi. People are looking for a jobs. Men and women hoping to be cosmetologists in Mississippi were caught in a political battle that could jeopardize their careers.

Mississippi changed the licensing procedure this year and students at Chris' Beauty College in Gulfport are feeling the pinch.

After they graduate, they must be tested before given a license. For years, the State Cosmetology Board was in charge of the process. That changed earlier this year.

"The governor decided that he wanted to eliminate the board doing the testing. They wanted to give it to an independent company to come in and test," said Director of Education Tammy Lee. "They decided on June 30th that they would discontinue testing. So now we have more then 400 students in Mississippi waiting."

Lee said the result was beauty college graduates were left out in the cold, waiting to start their careers.

"We went to Jackson to state board meetings to let them know how difficult this was for the cosmetology industry."

This week, the lobbying effort paid off. The state put the licensing procedures on the fast track. A private company will do the testing, but that won't begin until January.

There is a silver lining to this story. Even though confusion worried graduates and put their futures on hold, the new rules will make it easier.

Lee said for years hopeful cosmetologists had to drive to Jackson for testing.

"Now this company will come in and offer testing in sites that are closer then what they used to."

Those sites will be in Hattiesburg and Mobile, Alabama.

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