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Rick Steelhammer: Keep an eye peeled for this bill's passage

I used to think nothing said “don’t hire me” like a well-crafted, highly visible neck tattoo. But now it looks like the eyes may have it — “it” being the low-water mark for bad taste in presenting oneself to the world through the application of indelible ink.

The practice of eyeball tattooing, or in bill writers’ language, “scleral pigmentation” by scarring or piercing an eyeball with needles or scalpel and then applying ink to create an unforgettable lifetime makeover, is being addressed by House Bill 4161.

I have yet to see a West Virginian sporting a colored eyeball, but I admit I don’t get out as much as I used to, and have never kept my eyes peeled for establishments likely to be frequented by those sporting literal rose-colored lenses.

So it is possible the sponsors of the legislation are guilty of attempting to pass a law in search of an offender. But in my uncolored view, even if they are jumping the gun a bit, it’s for a good cause — trying to make West Virginia a bit more beautiful — or at least a little less ugly.

HB 4161 does not prohibit eyeball tattoos from taking place in the state — it just makes the process of getting state approval to create such eye-catching art so onerous and time-consuming it may not be worth doing.

For instance, if the bill passes, tattoo artists will be required go over a list of possible complications and side effects accompanying the process of slicing and coloring eyeball surfaces. Their clients then must sign off that they understand each possible outcome and still want to proceed.

Under the state law, if passed, eyeball tattoo artists are required to be diarrhea-free, devoid of any open sores or draining wounds, and not be prone to phlegmy, “productive” coughing fits. They must also wash their hands in hot water, scrub their nails with a clean brush “in good working order” and wear clean surgical gloves.

With high standards like those, the ink artists could pass as brain surgeons — or at least Subway sandwich technicians.

This is shaping up to be a session where truly meaningful legislation is likely to get kicked down the street. Meanwhile, lawmakers have already passed similar bills in Oklahoma, Indiana and Washington. So, lawmakers, it’s time to keep your eyes on the prize and make sure HB 4161 makes it past the goal line.

Should you encounter opposition, follow the lead of William Prescott, the Revolutionary War officer during the Battle of Bunker Hill, who urged his troops to wait for the most opportune moment to strike at an adversary: Translated into the legislative jargon of today, his command would be, “Don’t shoot until you see the tint of their scleral tissue!”

I may have that one tattooed on my neck.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at

rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com,

304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Funerals for Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Antill, Norman - 6 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Arbaugh, Jennings - Noon, Bartlett-Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Doss, Mark - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Gillispie, Glen - 11 a.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Hoover, Evelyn - 1. p.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Linton, Anna - 1 p.m., Pennington Smith Funeral Home, Gauley Bridge.

Mace, T. Opal - 2 p.m., Starcher Cemetery, Arnoldsburg.

Nelson, Kenneth - Noon, Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.