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Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1973 No. 23 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


House Bill No. 267 dealing with cosmetologists, if enacted, would not be unconstitutional under H.J.R. No. 61 (1973).

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                                                                 February 9, 1973

Honorable Dave Ceccarelli
State Representative 34th District
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 9850AGLO 1973 No. 234                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 23

Dear Sir:

            This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion regarding the effect, if any, which legislative ratification of the equal rights amendment to the federal Constitution will have on House Bill 267 dealing with cosmetologists.


            Although your letter makes reference to the still pending proposal to amend the United States Constitution to prohibit governmental sex discrimination, we already have such a provision in our own state Constitution.  By their approval of H.J.R. No. 61 at the November 7, 1972, general election, the people of this state adopted an amendment to the Washington Constitution which became effective on December 7, 1972, and reads as follows:

            "Equality of rights and responsibility under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex."

            Thus, insofar as any laws passed by our own state legislature are concerned, ratification of the proposed federal equal rights amendment will, for all practical purposes, add nothing that doesn't already exist, as a matter of constitutional law in this state at the present time.

            Having identified this point, we next turn to the provisions of House Bill No. 267.  Basically, this is an amendatory bill designed to replace the previous statutory designations of beauty culture and related terms with the single term "cosmetology," and to permit cosmetologists to serve both men and women.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We find nothing in this bill which, if enacted, would be in contravention of either H.J.R. No. 61,supra, or the federal equal rights amendment, if ratified.  In fact, unless at least so much of this bill as would permit cosmetologists to serve both men and women is adopted, it could well be argued that the presently existing version of chapter 18.18 RCW, under which beauty culturists may only practice haircutting on female persons, would be unconstitutional under both our state and the proposed federal equal rights amendments.1/

             We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,


Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General

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1/Cf., Mains v. Board of Barber Examiners, 249 C.A.2d 459, 57 Cal.Rptr. 573 (1967).