Pennsylvania lawmakers are spilling some ink over a plan to create new regulations for tattoo artists.

 

Body art shops don't have to be licensed in Pennsylvania, but a House proposal would establish licenses and inspections for businesses providing tattoos and piercings.

A lack of state regulations has created a "wild west" of tattoo parlors, said Paul Garrison, the owner of Ink Splat tattoo shop in East Stroudsburg.

"In Pennsylvania, you have a lot of people that are what are called scratchers -- tattooing out of their houses -- pretty much making a mess of people.

"Some do know what they're doing," he said. "But a lot of them ... they order stuff online, and they just start tattooing people out of their house and they have no clue on what they're doing."

But free market proponents are wary of regulations suggested by businesses rather than consumers.

They say proposed licensing rules can be a way to keep competitors at bay rather than serve consumers' best interests.

The legislation would require tattoo and piercing shop operators obtain a $100 annual license, expiring annually. It would also put the state Department of Health in charge of inspecting and regulating shops.

The proposal to regulate tattoo artists has cleared a House committee.