By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Oct. 11, 2018) In May, the Berlin Town Council voted 3-1 with one member absent to recommend forwarding regulations proposed by the Tattoo Ordinance Committee to the Worcester County Commissioners.
While the commissioners decided not to act, the Town Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to allow the committee to continue its work, meeting bimonthly, and to extend a moratorium on new tattoo businesses until Nov. 8, 2020.
This time, committee members said they would target the State of Maryland.
“We see that this problem is bigger than Berlin. It’s bigger than Worcester County. It’s really the State of Maryland’s … lack of any kind of structure,” Patricia Dufendach said. “They don’t have any requirements for certification, which prevents an industry, which a lot of people participate in.
“The expanse of this art form is not controlled in Maryland. It has a potential for being a completely unregulated – and dangerous – expression,” she continued. “We hope that you concur that the State of Maryland should look into this, and we are asking our state representatives to come up with … standards. They have standards for your hairdresser, your barber, your car mechanic. Everyone has to have safety and public health standards.”
Councilman Dean Burrell agreed.
“As a member of this committee … we all see the need for tattooing in the state –and especially here in Berlin – to be regulated, but it should not be regulated to such an extent it prohibits someone going into that business,” he said. “I think we agree that the regulations should be realistic and thorough, but not prohibitive.”
Committee Chairman Matt Amey said any new regulations “should not add any financial burden to the town.”
“It should be up to the business to support the process,” he continued. “It’s not the town’s responsibility to finance an industry.”
Mayor Gee Williams said it was ironic the state called itself progressive when many of its policies were not.
“Whatever stories they’re telling themselves in Annapolis, I hope they’re watching,” he said, adding that current laws on tattooing were a good example of “antiquated regulations.”
Williams went on to say it was part of a culture was that was both inappropriate and wrong, comparing it at one point to Prohibition.
“We encourage you to continue your work,” he said. “To not notice this cultural change in this community in general and in contemporary American society, you have to be blind … and I think some people are culturally blind of their own choosing.”