Senate votes to regulate tattoos, body piercing

Posted: Wednesday, April 05, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Temporary tattoos blossomed Tuesday in the Senate as lawmakers approved a bill regulating tattooing and body piercing.

Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis said he introduced the bill at the behest of tattoo and body-piercing shops who want to improve their profession's safety standards.

''The bad operators are really giving a black eye to the legitimate operators,'' said Ellis, D-Anchorage. ''There's a lot of rogue activity going on.''

Ellis said about 10 established shops around the state compete with independent operators who frequent events such as outdoor music festivals and sometimes operate in unsanitary conditions.

Sloppy health and safety practices can cause painful infection or even spread deadly diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis. The bill would give the state authority to regulate and inspect tattoo and body-piercing shops.

People who practice either craft would be licensed and required to inform customers about the dangers of blood-borne diseases. Tattooing and body piercing would fall under the authority of the Board of Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists, and one member of that board would be chosen from those crafts.

The bill would also outlaw tattooing anyone under 18. Minors between 15 and 18 could be pierced only with written consent of a parent present during the procedure. The bill does not cover ear piercing.

Several members of the Senate wore temporary tattoos in honor of Ellis' bill, one of only a handful of measures sponsored by minority Democrats that are likely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate this year.

Sen. Lyda Green sported a fire-breathing dragon on her cheek, but refused to support the bill, saying it would give a handful of shops too much voice on a board that represents hundreds of barbers and hairdressers.

''In talking to some of my friends who have beauty shops, they are not at all happy with this change,'' said Green, R-Mat-Su.

The bill passed 15-4 and will move to the House.

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