Conn. lawmakers consider licensing tattoo artists

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH)-- Some tattoo artists dislike the ink on a new bill requiring new licenses and others say regulations should be consistent statewide.

Right now tattoo regulations are different town to town. If this bill became a law, it would make statewide licensing practices. Some tattooers say it will hurt their small business, others say it will even out the playing field.

The buzz of tattoo shop needles is being replaced with buzz over a new state bill.

"We were like another thing to try and tax us," said Jason Stwartout, Flying Tiger Tattoo.

The new bill would require artists to complete training, learn first aid, and pay a licensing fee of $250 to the state's health department.

Plus, another $200 renewal fee every two years.

As a shop in New Britain, each tattooer already pays $300 for health inspections,  a doctor checks their facility quarterly, and they're trained.

"Illegal tattooers aren't going to follow these laws anyway, you know what I mean? So, it's not going to level out the playing field at all," said Stwartout.

A new town, brings new laws, and different opinions.

At East Hartford's Visual Expressions, Steven Gilmore says the board of health came once when they opened 15 years ago, and a doctor does inspections annually. He likes the new bill.

"It's going to put everybody on the same page and if they want to be here, they're going to step up to the plate and if they don't want to be here, they'll get out," said Gilmore.

He requires his artists to train for a year before they get to work, each one knows CPR, and he expects they won't mind the fee.

"I don't think it's going to bother anybody one bit, it may take two or three tattoos or maybe one tattoo to pay for that," said Gilmore.

If the bill moves forward, the Department of Health says they would have to make more hires to be able to implement the law. That could happen as early as this fall.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require tattoo artists to be licensed by the Department of Public Health.

The legislature's Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee passed the bill 50-0 last week, and forwarded it to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

The proposal would require tattoo artists to complete training and first aid courses and to pass an examination. License applicants would have to pay an initial $250 fee and a $200 renewal fee every two years.

As tattooing becomes more mainstream, proponents of the legislation say the public is entitled to expect that tattoo artists are licensed by the state. But tattoo artists say lawmakers are going about regulation the wrong way.

The bill was approved previously by the Public Health and Judiciary committees.

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