Minnesota tattoo bill would regulate ink and piercings

A bill put forward by State Rep. Julie Bunn (DFL-Lake Elmo) would require tattoo and piercing business to be licensed by the Health Department. 

The proposed legislation would impose a number of regulations on tattoo and piercing shops: body artists would have to wear gloves, would not be allowed to eat, drink or smoke while working, and would be required to turn away customers who appear intoxicated. The bill also specifies a list of metals allowed in piercings -- wood, bone, and other porous materials are forbidden.

But unlike previous versions of the bill introduced in previous years, Bunn says, this one has been developed in cooperation with the body art industry, and avoids unnecessarily burdensome regulations.

"We've brought the local body artists into the process, and they've really taught us a lot," Bunn said. (The bill includes a section defining terms like branding, suspension, and tongue bifurcation.) "At our last meeting, on Monday, the artists were all on board with the language of the bill."

Another group with a stake in the legislation includes blood banks like the Red Cross, who are forbidden from accepting donations from anyone who's gotten a recent piercing or tattoo from an artist who isn't licensed by the state.

The bill is currently being considered by several house committees. A Senate version is awaiting attention from the Finance Committee.

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