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Ordinance Would Require Permit For Tattoo And Body Piercing Parlors

Kevin Harber

Tippecanoe County officials have begun discussing an ordinance requiring a permit for businesses providing body piercings or tattoos.

Health Department Administrator Craig Rich says the state has guidelines to make sure these activities are done safely, but leaves it up to individual counties whether to establish ordinances.

He says Tippecanoe County’s proposed ordinance lists requirements a business must meet to obtain a permit, including proper sterilization of equipment, providing written instructions to customers about proper after-care, and posting signs about the potential risks of body art procedures.

“It’s an application and it’s set as a $300 fee," says Rich. "And that was agreed upon by all the owners. We’re not in it to make money, but that’s basically going to be breaking even for us.”

Rich says the ordinance requires the Health Department to perform a minimum of two annual inspections of each establishment.

Carrie McGill is the owner of DragonsBane Tattoo in Lafayette. She says despite the added expense and paperwork, she’s in favor of the permit process.

“Having this kind of an ordinance sets us up to be able to say ‘Hey, we’ve been inspected. We have been checked out. We’ve been vetted. This guy hasn’t.'” says McGill.

She says in the eight years her business has been open, it’s been a battle to distinguish her shop from people who work out of their houses.

“We have seen all kinds of horror come in through our studio," says McGill. "Not just shoddy work—infections, rejections of piercings, embedded piercings. It’s horrible. And unfortunately the general public doesn’t always know what they need to look for.”

Tippecanoe County Commissioners approved the ordinance on first reading Monday. It will be up for a final vote at their June 15th meeting.

Rich says if it passes, businesses will have a 90-day grace period to comply with the new rules before applying for a permit.

He says the ordinance would apply to the entire county, including the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette.

Rich says there are roughly 18 businesses they have identified that would need to apply for a permit. Those establishments would be inspected a minimum of two times per year by the Health Department.

He says violation of the same rule in a 12-month period would result in a $100 fine. The fine increases to $200 for a third violation and serious repeat violations could result in a permit being revoked.

Rich says the ordinance doesn’t apply to businesses that only pierce ear lobes using a traditional stud-and-clasp piercing gun.

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