Pa. lawmaker wants state to regulate tattoo shops

If you want to cut and dye hair in Pennsylvania, you need a license.

“I had to attend a beauty school for 1,250 hours and at the end of the 1,250 hours I had to apply to take a state board exam, written and practical,” said Jessica McCoy, co-owner of 5th Avenue Salon.

There are no state standards when it comes to tattoo artists.

“There isn’t a statewide organization that is dictating what we do, or what we can’t do, or checking up on us,” said Paul Sorrels, co-owner of 717 Tattoo and Piercing.

Although there is no state standard, Sorrells holds his employees to one.

“The biggest things that tattoo shops face are staph infections and hepatitis,” Sorrels said.

“We already go through the testing for the blood born pathogens. We have to all be certified in that,” said Steve Gentile, a 717 tattoo artist.

They also make sure everything is sterile.

“You have to keep your place as clean as possible to protect yourself and the person getting tattooed,” Gentile said.

House Bill 240, introduced by Rep. Anthony Deluca (D-Allegheny), would make sure shops across the state are doing the same. The bill would allow the Health Department to inspect shops and tattoo artists would be required to take a test on safety standards.

While Sorrels is not opposed to some legislation, he says the current bill is missing the mark.

“The biggest issues are your home or amateur tattooing,” he said. “The problem is not shops that are doing good tattoos and have been open for years, the problem is those that are tattooing without any regard or understanding of safety.”

Deluca first introduced the tattoo and piercing safety bill six years ago, but it never made it out of the House Health Committee, which is where House Bill 240 is now.

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