ST. PAUL (AP) -- Kim Rogness didn't go behind her parents' backs to get a tattoo. The Stillwater High School senior had her mom by her side, getting her own tattoo -- all part of a Christmas gift from dad.
But if the Legislature goes along with a bill by Rep. Tim Mahoney, youths like Rogness would find the tattoo parlor doors closed to them until they turn 18.
Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, is seeking to prohibit the tattooing of minors and subject tattoo parlors to fines and penalties of at least $1,500 for violations. The bill has been approved by one House committee so far.
He said the measure is designed to reduce the incidence of kids getting tattoos, usually under peer pressure, and regretting it later in life.
"Today's fad is tomorrow's indelible mark," Mahoney said.
Some tattoo parlors are on his side. Don Nolan, an internationally recognized tattoo artist who has operated Acme Tattoo Co. in St. Paul for 13 years, agrees the restriction would be "a really good thing." Beth McCullough, a tattoo artist who works with Nolan at Acme, has been lobbying for the bill at the State Capitol.
Acme's own policy prohibits the tattooing of minors, with or without parental permission. McCullough said she once turned away a 13-year-old and his mother, who wanted to buy her son a tattoo of his name on his neck as a birthday present.
"Tattooing is an adult activity," McCullough said. "It should be a decision made by adults for themselves."
John Rogness, Kim's father, thinks the extra restriction is unnecessary, especially given the current practice of requiring parental permission for minors.
"If my daughters want a tattoo, and they can justify it, I feel they can have it," said Rogness, a supervisor at Andersen Windows. "They've been able to make most of their decisions, but they know they have to be accountable. That's sort of the way we live."
Kim now has a small star tattooed at the top of her foot, and a tribal scroll design on her lower back.
At Tatts by Zapp, the Stillwater shop where Kim and her mom, Kathy, got their tattoos, tattoo artist Janette Madigan said she won't tattoo anyone under 18 "because it's permanent. Every tattoo I got when I was under 21 I changed."
But shop founder Dave Zappia said he'll tattoo a minor if he or she has both parents' permission. He won't accept stepparents' permission.
He predicted, though, that an adults-only law would backfire.
"It's (the Legislature's) call, but you're going to see more and more bad tattoos on people when that happens," Zappia said. "These kids, when they're ready to get a tattoo, they're going to get it."
If the tattoo bill makes it through the Legislature, it might face trouble getting past Gov. Jesse Ventura because it could run afoul of his core principles.
"You've got to wonder whether it would fall into the category of personal responsibility, or parental responsibility, or how you can't legislate against stupidity," said Ventura's chief spokesman, John Wodele. "Whether in the end the governor could be convinced to sign a bill like this, I don't know."
Two states, Iowa and Wisconsin, have laws similar to the one Mahoney is proposing, and Illinois forbids tattooing anyone younger than 21, he said.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.