WV House Health Committee approves amended version of tanning bi - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV House Health Committee approves amended version of tanning bill

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Teens wishing to get that artificial sun-kissed glow before prom may soon have to get the consent of their parents before lying in the tanning bed.

The House Health Committee on April 2 amended sections of Senate Bill 424, which prohibited the use of tanning beds by individuals younger than 18. However, the amendment says teens between the ages of 14 and 18 can use tanning facilities if their parents sign a consent form and show photo ID.

That changes the original Senate bill, which restricted use entirely for minors. But Delegate Tiffany Lawrence, D-Jefferson, said she hopes parents and teens will realize tanning beds are not safe. She told the committee she would often tan as a teen and is now suffering the consequences.

"We are all in agreement something needs to be done to protect our children from the dangers of tanning beds," she said.

A second amendment to the bill reduced the fines facilities would incur if they did not abide by the new legislation. In the original bill, a first offense would be a misdemeanor and result in a $500 fine. A second offense also is a misdemeanor and would cost a facility $500 to $1,000 or jail time of 10 days to one year; a third offense would cost between $2,000 and $5,000 or 30 days to one year in jai; and subsequent offenses would result in the revocation of the business registration certificate to operate a tanning facility.

But delegates felt those fines were too high, so they voted to restructure the penalties. Now, facilities in violation of the law would pay hundreds of dollars in fines, not thousands, and the jail time has been removed. Lawrence cited the recently released justice reinvestment report and said tanning facilities in violation should not be subjected to such harsh penalties because it would further increase the burden on the state's regional jails. Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, said lowering the fines and removing the jail time is "a smart thing to do."

"The penalties are too stiff and too burdensome as drafted," he said. "I think this is a much more reasonable approach removing the jail time."

But not all delegates agreed with the amendment.

"I think to take the whole section d out makes it a little bit weak," said Delegate Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia. "For the number of years I've been here, we've been trying to do something about the tanning beds. It seems that every year we make it too weak or we cut it down so it's not very effective."

Both amendments were adopted and the bill passed out of committee. It will now go to House Judiciary, which also can amend the bill before reporting it to the full House of Delegates for a vote. But because it is an amended Senate bill, it must go back to the Senate where that body will approve or reject changes.