Connecticut moved one step closer to becoming the 42nd state to license tattoo artists when the House passed legislation to regulate the industry Thursday.
The bill passed the House on a 122-13 vote. It now heads to the Senate.
Some lawmakers were shocked an industry that uses needles and ink was not regulated, but proponents were unable to relay any horror stories about the need for the legislation.
Rep. Al Adinolfi, R-Cheshire, said he doesn’t have any tattoos, but all of his grandchildren do. He was surprised to learn the industry was not regulated.
“I was actually shocked,” Adinolfi said.
Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, wanted to know if there were any incidents that led to the legislation being drafted or complaints about tattoo artists.
Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Windham, said there are concerns about “blood-borne diseases, people becoming ill from unsanitary needles, the ink itself can cause allergic reactions.”
According to Quinnipiack Valley Health District Director of Health Leslie Balch, of particular concern are the cross transmissions of pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C to and from artist and client.
Connecticut law currently only calls for tattoo artists to be “supervised” by a physician who is supposed to be available in emergencies. The legislation replaces that framework with a specific licensing process for the estimated 200-plus tattoo artists now practicing in the state, and includes a first aid, blood-borne pathogen, and communicable disease course and exam.
Under the bill, practicing without a license would become a class D misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment and/or up to a $250 fine.
Johnson said Connecticut is only one of nine states that doesn’t provide licensure.
The bill was partly inspired by Myra Rochow, a commissioner with the Quinnipiack Valley Health District, who is one of House Speaker Brendan Sharkey’s neighbors. Rochow was reviewing state regulations and expressed concern about the lack of licensing for tattooing in Connecticut.
“Myra made a strong case including noting that tattoo artists, similar to medical professionals, use needles to pierce skin,” Sharkey said. “Public health is one of the top responsibilities of government, and with the growing popularity of tattoos we need to ensure it is as safe as possible.”