Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Bill Would Crack Down on Unlicensed Tattoo, Body Piercing Studios

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Bill Would Crack Down on Unlicensed Tattoo, Body Piercing Studios

Article excerpt

A bill currently waiting to be heard by the full House of Representatives would add teeth to the state's enforcement procedures against unlicensed tattoo and body piercing studios.

Under House Bill 2889, the state Department of Health would be charged with administering enforcement procedures. State Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, said the proposal was necessary because of holes in existing laws regarding tattoo studios.

"Currently, we have laws in place for the protection of consumers, but the Department of Health needs to have the authority to enforce those laws," she said.

Pittman said current law allows the state Health Department to make rules regarding licensing requirements for tattoo and body piercing entities. She said the Health Department can revoke licenses and punish violators of Health Department rules with fines of up to $5,000, but the agency lacks the ability to take immediate enforcement action against unlicensed individuals and establishments.

"We need to give them the authority to enforce the existing law," Pittman said. "My legislation does that."

People in the industry said the measure is a good idea.

In Oklahoma City, Jody Benner, the owner of Mystical Illusions, a tattoo and piercing studio at 4417 NW 23rd St., said state regulations should be enforced.

"I would tell them go for it," he said. "If some shops want to fight it, that just shows they aren't doing things the right way."

Benner, who worked with lawmakers in 1998 to try and develop tattoo regulations, said unregulated studios damage the whole industry. State lawmakers legalized tattoos and body piercings in 2006.

"There are people getting hurt and getting bad work from some shops," he said. "Some of them (the unregulated studios) take shortcuts. That's like a doctor taking a shortcut on a transplant."

He said new technology and equipment have made tattooing safer and less expensive.

"To do a safe and clean tattoo isn't that hard to do," Benner said. "Now there is no excuse for not doing the work properly."

Mike Martin, president of the Kansas City, Mo.-based industry trade group Alliance of Professional Tattooists, said his organization supported the bill. …

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