Conservatives will talk free-market, small government, wigology

Some of the top conservatives in the country and the state will converge on Jackson on Saturday to talk about taxes, spending, regulation and — drum roll — wigology.

Americans for Prosperity-Mississippi calls it the Mississippi Growth Forum and it will be from 1-5 p.m. at the Hilton Jackson, 101 E. County Line Road.

Russ Latino, state director for AFP-Mississippi, said he expects Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation, state House Speaker Philip Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Fox News commentator Caleb Bonham, Mike Hurst and Paul Avelar of the Mississippi Justice Institute to be among the speakers.

Another speaker, Melony Armstrong, made the news when she decided to open a salon that offered hair braiding. Officials on the Mississippi Cosmetology Board told her she’d need 1,500 hours of instruction to obtain a cosmetology license. After some pestering, the board relented. Only 300 hours of classes in “wigology” would be needed. Trouble was, no schools taught wigology. Time for more pestering. A school then agreed to offer it and she opened Naturally Speaking in Tupelo in 1999.

But, as she wrote in the Huffington Post in 2014:

“As business picked up, I needed to hire and train employees to meet the growing demand. In order for me to teach natural hair braiding, however, the state required me to endure another 1,200 hours in cosmetology training and then 2,000 more hours to obtain a cosmetology instructor’s license. Altogether, that’s more class time than what Mississippi demands to become a firefighter, law enforcement officer and paramedic, combined.”

So an activist was born. She enlisted the Institute for Justice, which is, you guessed it, all about limiting “the size and scope of government power.” By 2005, the state government saw the light and hair braiders were free to braid.

Her story falls under regulation. Latino believes the state has too many rules that make it hard to start a business.

“We believe that some occupational license requirements present real hurdles to people starting their own businesses and taking care of their families, while providing minimal to no benefit to the public,” he said.

More than 250 people have tickets, Latino said, and there is room for about 50 more. Tickets are free but you have to get one by registering here.