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CPBJ Extra Blog

When should government regulate new or emerging industries?

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Among the items on this week's House agenda is third consideration of a bill known as the Body Art Establishment Regulation Act. (Stay with me here, I promise I have a point.)

The bill, H.B. 1249, was sponsored primarily by Rep. Rosemary Brown, R-Monroe and Pike counties. The goal of the bill is to create a legal process to license and inspect establishments that perform body-art services and tongue-splitting operations.

Tattoos and “permanent cosmetics” are becoming more prevalent, and my experience has shown me that they are slowly gaining acceptance in society. Tongue-splitting, however? *shudder*

But what this bill made me think about this morning was not solely creepy or salacious. It made me ponder when government should get involved and create regulations for business. Where is the line?

Clearly, an industry that involves repeatedly sticking needles into people and performing a service that has permanent results seems like a prime candidate for regulation — and, I would hope, regulations fairly early in the industry’s existence.

But what caught my eye in this proposal is that it includes giving the Department of Health legal permission to perform the simplest of tasks:

“The (health) department, in the exercise of its duties under this act, shall adopt such regulations as are reasonably necessary. ... Regulations ... shall include, but not be limited to:

1. Body art establishment license requirements, including, but not limited to, any health, sanitation, sterilization and safety standards.

2. Temporary establishment requirements, including, but not limited to, any health, sanitation, sterilization and safety standards.

3. Operator training requirements.

4. Practitioner training requirements.

5. Apprentice training requirements.”

All of these seem to be provisions that should have been in place decades ago. Yet it has taken until 2014 for our government to consider stepping in with regulations. Though that appalls me, I don’t know that I have an answer to the question, “When is the right time for government to step in to regulate new or emerging industries?”

For the record, Brown’s office was unavailable this morning to discuss what prompted her to sponsor this bill.

What are your thoughts about new industries and regulation?

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a question or tip for her? Email her at amy@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @amygulli. Circle Amy Gulli on .

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