By a vote of 122 to 13, the state House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday night that would require tattoo artists to be licensed.
Proponents of House Bill 6590, which now goes to the state Senate for consideration, said it is a public safety measure that would help prevent the spread of infection. “I was actually shocked that a tattoo artists didn’t have to be licensed,” said Rep. Al Adinolfi, R-Cheshire. After all, he said, they puncture a person’s skin thousands of times while injecting dye. “I think it’s a no-brainer,” he said of the licensing requirement.
Connecticut is one of only six states that does not require tattoo artists to obtain a license from either state or local authorities. Currently law requires only that tattoo technicians operate under the loose supervision of a physician.
If approved by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, tattoo artists in Connecticut would have to complete an apprecenticeship under the supervision of a more experienced tattoo technician, take a course in basic first aid and pay a $250 fee in order to obtain a license, which would need to be renewed every two years. The requirement would take effect in July, 2014.
The state Department of Public Health estimated it would cost less than $100,000 to institute the licensing requirement in 2014 and slightly more than that the following year.
Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, a Glastonbury Republican who is also a physician, said the cost of establishing the licensing requirement is a small price to improve public safety.
But some lawmakers questioned the need for the new regulation. Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, said he can see pluses and minuses to the legislation. But he questioned the fairness of changing the rules for technicians who have been operating in the state for years.
Besides, Sampson added, there is “little evidence of a problem” regarding the safety of tattoo artists. “There needs to be a compelling reason before we enact a new law,” he said.