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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Body Art

It's that time of year, when laws from the legislative session of the spring start going into effect. One of the new laws this year is state regulation of individuals and establishments performing body art such as tattoos, piercings, and more unusual modifications.

Last week's Maplewood Review includes an article on the topic. And as it happens, inspired by Rachel Carlson's blog (which I learned about at the recent LMC conference), I had already written an e-mail to city staff on July 1st, asking what we should do to bring Maplewood's city code in line with the new state rules.

Carlson explains:
Cities that previously regulated body art establishments may continue to do so – if their local ordinances are as strict as the state requirements. It should be noted that establishments in cities with local ordinances will not need to obtain the new state license.

Cities may not continue to license persons practicing body art. These practitioners must now be licensed exclusively by the state.
Unless it has been amended since the last codification, Article XVII of our city code regulates tattoo establishments (pages 281-291 of the code PDF on the website). It appears to license individuals, which would seem to be prohibited under the new state law, as well as locations. I haven't read enough to know if our current ordinances are at least as strict as the state requirements, but at a minimum it appears we need to amend the code to be in compliance with the updated state statutes. Searching the PDF, I don't find any references to other types of body art covered by the state law.

Since the state is stepping into handling licensing and regulation in this area, there's also the question, as Carlson notes, of whether or not the city wants to be in the tattoo, piercings, brandings, scarification, and tongue-bifurcation regulation business. Is there any compelling reason that we should be, now that the state is taking it on?

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