Florida Rep. Mary Brandenburg, the Democrat from Lake Worth, is what passes for a champion of tattooists. You see, in a Republican-dominated legislature, tattoos are like Satan's graffiti on God's aluminum siding. But, oh well. Tattooists have learned to be pragmatic in their political forays, and they are glad at least that Brandenburg's trying to forge a path toward Florida licensure that will not totally screw up the state's tattoo culture. Or at least that's how it looks so far. (Based on recent experience, tattooists have also learned a healthy distrust of legislators -- Sen. Eleanor Sobel is persona non grata.)
Still, as Brandenburg's bill makes the legislative journey toward law, tattooists in the audience will have to endure some cringe-inducing moments -- like yesterday. In introducing her bill in the Health Family Services Committee, a member, Rep. Luis Garcia asked whether Brandenburg's bill could include a provision punishing a parent who would tattoo a two- or three-year-old child.
Instead of describing to Garcia the role of child welfare agencies, which currently have the legal right to perform that deed, Brandenburg responded, "It's foolish for anybody to get a tattoo. It's a risky procedure, but this is the world we live in."
That reality made the committee sad. Then Rep. Ed Homan read the names of people who wished to speak on the matter and included in that list a man, "Harry Legg, owner of Day Spa, Inc." He was kidding, of course. It was April Fool's Day! Everyone chuckled and forgot for a moment that they live in a state where people get tattoos, on purpose.