Currently one of America’s most overly regulated states, Arkansas could soon make life easier for its workers. Two new bills advanced in the state legislature would deregulate hair braiding and create a new legal defense for workers who are threatened by government regulations.

Rep. Bob Ballinger introduced HB 1177 to exempt natural hair braiding from the state’s onerous cosmetology licensing requirements. In Arkansas, a cosmetology license takes 1,500 hours of training and can cost over $17,000 to complete. If enacted, this bill would free entrepreneurs like Nivea Earl from stifling—and unnecessary—red tape.

Nivea has been braiding hair for more than 16 years—ever since she was in high school. Now married and a mother of two, Nivea wanted to turn her passion into a career. In 2013, she opened her own business, Twistykinks, in Jacksonville, Arkansas. At first, Nivea braided clients’ hair right in her own home. But after a year in business, she had enough money saved up to move Twistykinks to a commercial storefront. As she put it, “Being an entrepreneur is me living my dream. It is me fulfilling my passion for braiding hair.”

But the state had different plans. Arkansas told Nivea she needed a license in cosmetology before she could legally braid a single strand of hair. Otherwise, her braiding would make her a criminal. She could risk fines and even jail time. Undeterred, Nivea decided to fight back.

Last June, she partnered with the Institute for Justice and filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. As part of its new Braiding Freedom initiative, IJ also launched new lawsuits on behalf of braiders in Missouri and Washington State.

In response, Rep. Ballinger introduced his regulatory reform bill, which has already gathered more than a dozen cosponsors from both parties and unanimously passed through the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. The Arkansas House of Representatives will vote on the bill on Feb. 16. If enacted, Arkansas would join the ranks of 11 states that do not force natural hair braiders to obtain a license.

HB1177 would also create a certification program for natural hair braiding. Crucially, this 120-hour certification would be voluntary. As the bill explicitly makes clear, “An individual may engage in natural hair braiding and operate an establishment where only natural hair braiding is practiced without obtaining natural hair braiding certification.” To become certified, braiders would need to pay $30 in registration fees, take 120 hours of coursework on health, sanitation and scalp care, and pass a written exam.