Bill to ban eyeball tattooing advances in Nebraska Legislature

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska lawmakers this week advanced a bill to prevent people from getting tattoos on the whites of their eyes.

Nebraska bill LB 449, which would prohibit such tattooing and put in a place a fine of up to $10,000 for violations, won first-round approval Wednesday on a 38-0 vote.

While the practice, called scleral tattooing, is not common, lawmakers in two other states have banned — or are taking steps to ban — the practice in recent months. Washington state is also considering a ban. Last year, Indiana became the second state to ban the practice, following Oklahoma's ban in 2009.

The proposal by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont received strong support from eye doctors who warn that such tattoos are risky and could cause people to lose their sight.

The concept of eyeball tattooing proved cringe-worthy for many senators. Sen. Sara Howard, the chairwoman of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee, says it's "by far the most disgusting bill I have ever heard in my committee."

The bill includes a limited exception for cases where such a procedure is medically necessary and performed by someone who's trained to do it.

6 News contributed to this report.