Bill would increase tattoo regulation
Local tattoo parlors will face higher licensing fees and stricter health and safety inspections if a bill passed by the state House of Representatives on Tuesday becomes law.
Under current Michigan law, body art and piercing parlors must pay $500 for a license every three years. The new legislation would require the businesses to pay $500 annually, and be open to announced or unannounced inspections from the local health department. All parlors also will be required to develop a plan of action in case of blood-borne infectious disease exposure.
The House passed the bill 57-45 Tuesday. It received the approval of the Senate in September, and likely will make it to Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s desk soon. The governor intends to sign the bill, Granholm’s spokeswoman Katie Carey said.
The licensing fee had to be increased to fund the departments that train inspectors and perform checks on the parlors, said state Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing, the bill’s sponsor.
“It’s important, if we’re going to send in county inspectors for the facilities, that they know what they’re looking for,” Gleason said.
“That’s one of the major concerns of why we wanted to license, to make sure communicable diseases are limited.”
Although regulation is crucial to public safety, tripling the licensing fee will cripple small businesses, said state Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who voted against the legislation.
“It was such a large increase in cost, I voted no,” Jones said. “I do believe that tattoo parlors should be regulated, but I thought the fee increase was excessive.”
A state fee increase creates a significant financial burden, said Brian Madson, an apprentice at Fish Ladder Tattoo, 302 E. Grand River Ave., in Lansing.
The business also pays a $400 annual licensing fee to Ingham County, he said, creating a total of $900 the business must pay annually if the legislation is passed.
“Michigan is hard up, I understand that, but it’s going to force us to drive up costs,” Madson said.
“You’re inadvertently punishing honest people instead of raising the fines on shops that aren’t licensed. That’s where most of your blood-borne problems are coming from.”
But licensing fees are necessary for keeping tattoo artists and customers safe, said Kris Lachance, owner of Splash of Color, 515 E. Grand River Ave.
“I am more than willing to pay for a program that is responsible and is going to address keeping tattoos out of basements and flea markets,” Lachance said.
“It costs money for the health department to operate. … I understand the licensing pays for that.”
The cost increase is unfortunate, but necessary to fund inspections, said state Rep. Dick Ball, R-Bennington Twp., who voted in favor of the bill.
“Uncontrolled or not properly controlled establishments doing body art, tattooing, piercing, etc. are a significant health hazard,” Ball said.
“They wanted to be able to have some funds to give local health departments to go out and do the inspections. They have to send someone out to do that, and that obviously costs money.”