The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 15, 2013

Tattoo measure moved to House floor for vote

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — For a fourth year now, Sen. Mike Green is attempting to keep anyone under 16 from getting a tattoo.

Anyone between 17 and 18 would be required to have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian and be at the tattoo parlor with a photo identification before a youngster in that age bracket could get skin painted.

Before approving his bill Thursday, the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee amended it at the request of freshman Chris Walters, R-Putnam, so that it parallels a similar crackdown on minors using tanning beds.

Green said he initially offered the bill three years ago when approached by Beckley Magistrate Steve Massie in response to a complaint that a sibling took a juvenile sister to a tattoo parlor without the permission of her parents.

When the state code was examined, it was learned there was nothing to prevent this, Green, D-Raleigh, pointed out.

“This requires that a parent or legal guardian would have to sign for anyone under 18,” he said.

Green’s original bill allowed for confiscation of an offending artist but that was softened in committee in an amendment by Walters.

Just as the tightening on the use of tanning beds, the revised proposal now says the local health department may suspend or revoke the owner’s business license.

The tanning measure, SB464, differs in one other aspect — no one under 18 may use one.

“I want to mirror what we did to tanning beds with regard to confiscation of equipment,” Walters said of his amendment.

“It leaves in the fines so we can have some sort of streamline for what we’re doing with tanning facilities.”

Tattoo artists violating the proposed law would be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined $100 for a first offense.

A second offense would expose the tattoo artist to a fine ranging between $500 and $1,000, and a jail term of 10 days to one year, while third and subsequent crimes could be punished with fines from $1,000 to $5,000, and a jail sentence of 30 days to one year, or both.

While a third offense would still be considered a misdemeanor, the guilty party would have all tattoo equipment and paraphernalia seized.

Each bill contains a number of health safeguards.

For instance, operators of tanning beds must caution patrons that repeated use of such facilities could lead to burns, eye damage, skin sensitivity, premature aging of the skin and even skin cancer.

Tattoo artists are required to scrub hands and fingernails completely with hot running water and bacterial soap, following by the air-blown drying of the skin.

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