Body art, ballot initiative reform bills advance


LITTLE ROCK — The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee gave a “do pass” recommendation Thursday to SB 387, which would prohibit body artists from performing sub-dermal implants.

The bill by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, had been opposed by the Arkansas Body Modification Association, but the association dropped its support in exchange for an amendment that removes a ban on scarification and instead would allow the state Health Department to decide whether to regulate scarification.

The bill goes to the House.

The panel also endorsed SB 388, also by Irvin, which would prohibit body art procedures on people under 16 years old, except for ear piercings, and would limit certain piercings on people under 18 years old. The bill goes to the House.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday endorsed two ballot proposal reform bills.

SB 821 by Sen. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, would require those being paid to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to be trained and registered with the secretary of state’s office.

Also under the bill, clearly fraudulent signatures would not be counted during the initial signature count, the county clerk or secretary of state would be required to report fraudulent signatures to the local prosecutor and state police, and every group collecting signatures would be allowed just 30 days to collect signatures.

SB 822, also sponsored by Ingram, would require any company that wants to pay people to collect signatures for ballot initiatives in Arkansas to register with the secretary of state’s office. The measure also requires those ballot question or legislative question committees to file a financial report with the secretary of state’ office if they spend more than $500 on the effort.

Ingram said the proposals were in response to ballot collection problems last year when 70 percent of signatures submitted to the secretary of state’s office in support of two ballot issues, one to raise the severance tax on natural gas and one to allow casino gambling in four counties, were ruled invalid.