Monday, March 31, 2008

Tattoo artists bill moves forward in Senate

A measure designed to expand the venues in which licensed tattoo artists can work will have its final committee hearing in the Hawaii Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Friday.

House Bill 2283 was drafted by a group of tattoo artists, with the help of state Rep. John Mizuno, D-Ft. Shafter-Alewa Heights, who wanted to stage Hawaii's first-ever tattoo convention called Hawaii Inked.

State law requires that all tattoos must be done by a licensed tattoo artist in a permitted shop, in effect prohibiting any type of tattoo trade show or convention from taking place in Hawaii.

The group is pushing for legislation that would create an exception to the law. The original measure proposed allowing the state Department of Health to issue 14-day certificates of registration to tattoo artists to do their work in an educational or trade show setting. Their intent is to promote the emerging tattoo business in Hawaii as well as educate people on its cultural history and related health and safety issues.

However, the latest version of HB 2283 repeals the original tattoo artist licensure procedures on the books and instead would require all tattoo artists to register with the state Department of Health every year for a fee. Initial registration would cost $75 and annual renewals would be $7.50.

It's a change that concerns both the tattoo artists and Mizuno, who say registration would actually soften Hawaii's stringent licensing standards, which is not what they want.

"It's almost like a one-size-fits-all thing," Mizuno said. "You don't have as much oversight with just registration and there's an unintended consequence that there may be unqualified artists practicing. So, where's the oversight?



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