Tattoo Bill to be Considered Monday

4-2-06 - OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A bill that would legalize tattooing in Oklahoma is scheduled to be considered in a House committee tomorrow.

Oklahoma is currently the only state in the nation to ban the practice.

The Democratic Senate approved the bill on a 30-to-15 vote last year, but the measure was held up in the Republican-controlled House Health and Human Services Committee.

Under the legislation, tattoo artists would be required to apply for licensure, complete educational courses and consent to regular inspections by the Health Department.

House author Al Lindley of Oklahoma City says oversight of the practice is needed.

Despite a statewide ban on tattooing in Oklahoma, people are giving and receiving tattoos at a festival in downtown Tulsa.

Organizers say the event shows the popularity of tattooing in the state and the need to bring it out from the underground so it can be monitored by health officials.

Artists inked tattoos on customers at many of the 60 booths lining the inside of The Hive event center, where the festival continues today.

Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris says it's up to the Tulsa Police Department to make arrests for the misdemeanor.

But he considers violation of the tattooing law a low priority compared to the large load of homicide cases his office is facing right now.

Many tattoo artists at the event say legalizing the practice in Oklahoma would help eliminate irresponsible tattoo operations and the spread of disease.