JACKSON — Do a better job with customer service. That’s what some Mississippi lawmakers are telling the state Board of Cosmetology.
Senators held a hearing Tuesday at the state Capitol to discuss complaints they have heard from people back home, including cosmetologists who say they’re having trouble getting information from the regulatory board.
Sen. J.P. Wilemon, D-Belmont, said the board does a poor job of answering phone calls and returning messages, and that has left some of his constituents frustrated.
“What disturbs me more than anything is they cannot talk to anybody,” Wilemon said.
Sen. Nickey Browning, R-Pontotoc, is the main sponsor of a bill that could give the Legislature more control over the Board of Cosmetology by changing the way the board is funded.
Under the current system, the board receives money from licensing fees that cosmetologists pay. Under Browning’s proposal, fees collected from cosmetology licenses would go into the general state budget, and legislators would decide how much — or how little — money to allocate to the board.
Browning said if the bill doesn’t pass this year, he will file it again next year if the problems at the board persist.
Cynthia Johnson, the board’s executive director, said she shares lawmakers’ concerns about customer service.
She promised to try to make sure things improve. She said the agency is short-staffed, and most employees were hired within the past six months. The agency has a backlog of work in issuing licenses, she noted, although she didn’t say how long it would take to catch up or how many people have applied for licenses but not received them.
Leisa McElreath of Oxford, president of the Board of Cosmetology, said the board doesn’t have enough staff members to properly investigate whether applicants for cosmetology licenses are truthfully representing their education and experience.
Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, was among the lawmakers asking tough questions of the Board of Cosmetology on Tuesday. Before he started, he lightened the mood by telling them: “All of you have really nice hair.”
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