Letters From the Issue of March 12, 2009

Inked With Anger

Editor's note: Articles we posted recently on TheJuiceBlog.com on proposed laws that would make it harder to open a tattoo parlor brought out a lot of pissed-off ink fans. A sample of the 100 or so comments:

John says:

Why, now, would a state try to effectively diminish income and the tax it could receive from said income? Also, this bill mentions five signatures, basically five artists giving "permission" for you to tattoo. Can you legislate art? Does this sound like strong-arming?

I actually read the bill. It is only clear that some want to shut down the amount of artists working in Florida and maybe shut some already existing. I know tattooists keep getting better, so could the fear of competition be a motivator of this bill?

Leave the tattooists of Florida alone to make a living, raise families, and pay their taxes. It is their right.

Andrew says:

I disagree. I've read this legislation several times, and I really think it will encourage safe tattooing in Florida and protect Florida tattooists. It is, after all, sponsored by the Florida Professional Tattoo Artists Guild (FloridaTattooGuild.com). Why would they sponsor something that's trying to "eliminate tattoos regardless of the consequences." State Sen. Eleanor Sobel did indeed sit down with artists to write the bill, and the FPTAG has held open meetings explicitly to ask for input from Florida tattooists. It wasn't written to eliminate tattooing but to make it safer, and I think that's something we can all agree we could use.

Joel says:

Senate Bill 1130 is not about "making the tattoo industry safer." The federal blood-borne pathogens rule addresses safety issues through the adoption and implementation of standards based on the concept of Universal Precautions.

SB 1130 is about the creation of a monopolistic board manned by "five professionals" who will be given the power to decide who can and cannot tattoo based on "proof of status."

Has anyone reviewed the corporate charters, board minutes of any meetings of said Florida tattoo organizations, or requested documentation of filed returns? Do tattooists in Florida know the Florida Professional Tattoo Artists Guild is representing them?

What's next on the agenda? I can almost hear heavy boots crunching broken glass.

Deborah Olivieri says:

I am protesting this new bill. For your information, the people who are supposed to be representing the 800 tattoo establishments in Florida are not our voice. I was involved in this "Guild" years ago, and they voted themselves in as lifetime leaders. This bill was never proposed to the existing members, and it was not sent to all the studios in Florida. I got a very generic letter and didn't respond, as I didn't understand the contents and was out of town when the letter came. A lot of us travel and don't know what is going on with the "Guild." Most tattoo studios don't even know it exists. Most of the studios I know already act in accordance with blood-borne pathogens courses that we take on our own, and we have governed ourselves. Without understanding the underbelly of tattooing, this bill will not only be a bad idea — as we depend on out-of-state artists for conventions, guest spots, or hiring out-of-state artists — but it will only drive legal tattooing underground as before. Please do not let this bill get passed.

Bill Hannong says:

The Florida Professional Tattoo Artists Guild was formed in January 1992 and is registered with the State of Florida as a nonprofit corporation. The driving reason for the bill is the safety of the public and the longevity of tattooing in Florida.

We sent out around 850 notices twice over a month ago inviting everyone, members and nonmembers, to a general meeting in Orlando. A lot of people showed up and discussed what they would like to see in the bill, and those changes are being made. One of the biggest additions is the wording needed to include conventions in the state. We will be sending out a newsletter with the changes and any new information about the bill. If you did not receive a notice of the meeting last month, we apologize. We plan on having another meeting in the near future, and we would like to invite you to attend.

John says:

Bill Hannong, you mentioned a meeting on February 16 that called on tattooists. One problem, Bill: If the public checks, you'll notice that the Senate bill was filed on February 4. Your meeting was 12 days later. There was no changing the bill — it was already filed. To hear the Florida tattooists' opinions AFTER a bill has been filed is completely pointless.

Bill, you are either completely unaware of how the legislative process works or you are blatantly lying to the public. Either sounds like a poor quality to be involved in Florida legislation.

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