Thursday, August 6, 2009

Details on the new statutes

As you have probably heard, we have new tattoo regulations that took effect July 1, 2009. If you would like to read the actual statue you can find it online at and then link to Bill Status and Documents, then do a search for S.8. 1263 S.D. 2 H.D.3 C.D.1. Since much of this is new, the DOH is still working out any bugs. Providing they have adequate funding, the Departmental Rules and Regulations will be revamped in the near future to coincide with the new statutes. Statutes take precedence over departmental rules, however, in instances where the Rules & Regs have MORE detail or stricter regulations, those apply. So now the new Statutes are in effect, but being interpreted in light of the current (outdated) Departmental Rules & Regulations. If you are not fully aware of the difference, Statute is typically more general and determined by the Legislative process, while Departmental Rules & Regs are what you have seen referred to as Chapter 11-17 (also online), and require a very different process for revision. We are truly hoping that the Department of Health and Sanitation will see no staff cuts with the current budget crisis, as they are horribly understaffed as is..

In reading this, keep in mind that permits are for the actual shop location, while licensing is for the individual artist.

To briefly summarize the new statutes, no one can tattoo here in Hawaii without a state license, as was previously the case. There are now two options for getting licensed, however. In addition to taking the state exam, alternative DOH approved courses developed for the tattoo industry and taken within the last two years are acceptable. At present, the DOH is working out the details on what constitutes an approved course--hopefully this will be done in the near future. There is no longer a TB or syphilis test requirement specified in the Statutes, but it remains in the old Dept. Rules & Regs. The new statues do not specify a fee increase for permanent licenses, although we will see gradual increases, which are well justified, since our renewal fees are only $7.50 for 2 years. You can’t lick a stamp for that, can you? Initial application fees remain at $75.

Previously there was a clause in the statute that anyone with a communicable disease could not tattoo. This clause has been removed from the new statues, but remains in the Departmental Rules and Regulations for now (until the department has the budget approval to update them). Anyway, remember free hepatitis B vaccines are available at the Diamondhead STD clinic near KCC in Kaimuki. They are also avail. at other clinics at a minimal cost, but it's FREE at Diamondhead! Hep. B and C are by far the greatest risk we face in dealing with blood & bodily fluids, so hep B vaccines are a good idea for anyone in a tattoo shop. If there are several of you needing the vaccine, it may be possible for Heather to come do it at your shop! Contact Heather Lusk, to make arrangements.

Oahu - Diamond Head Health Center 733-9281: walk-in M-F 11 am –4 pm
Maui – Wailuku Health Center 984-2129
Kauai – Kapaa Neighborhood Center 821-2741
E. Hawaii – Waiakea Health Center 974-4247
W. Hawaii Kealakekua Health Center 322-1920

Free HIV testing with results in 20 minutes (no waiting!) are avail at the location of your choice from the Life Foundation. They will come to you for the HIV tests, or you can visit the Life Foundation office for hep C testing in addition to the HIV test. Call 521-2437 and ask for anyone in the prevention department.

Inspection standards for shops remain unchanged, as specified in the Departmental Rules and Regs, which will see minor revisions assuming the state budget will permit such revisions. Since this is all new, and in light of the current debates on furloughs and cut-backs, details will be determined as soon as the cut-backs and furlough/budget issues are resolved.

As always, tattooing cannot occur outside of a permitted location, but there are some new developments. Initial permit applications must be accompanied by a fee of $125. Shop permits still must be renewed annually at the renewal rate of $75, due by December 31st. This fee is still substantially below many other states. Fees have been increased, and rightfully so, as there had not been an increase in nearly two decades.

Temporary permits will be available for conventions and educational exhibitions/demonstrations. Temporary permits are for a maximum of 7 consecutive days and fall into one of two categories: educational or commercial. Temporary permit applications must be made in writing to the department at least sixty days prior to the scheduled event and must include specific measures to meet specified health and safety standards, and may be subject to a site inspection. Temporary permit applicants shall pay a $50 nonrefundable application fee in addition to:
(1) A $500 nonrefundable permit fee for an event featuring not more than forty participating tattoo artists; or
(2) A $50 nonrefundable permit fee for an event featuring less than three participating tattoo artists demonstrating for educational purposes only, without compensation, consideration, or donation by the public

Our reasoning behind these two categories with very different requirements is to allow for, say, a Samoan Tafuga to do a demonstration at one of the museums or perhaps a Japanese tattoo master in conjunction with an exhibition. This is a very different thing than a tattoo convention where the general public is getting work from numerous tattooists. From our previous phone surveys we are fully aware that a number of tattooists in Hawaii feel that conventions can pose a health risk (ourselves included). This is why we have stipulated no more than 40 participating artists and that health standards must be met. If conventions are to occur here (which is bound to happen) we want to insure that it is done in a safe manner with controls in place.

Temporary licenses are also available to visiting tattooists for a maximum of 14 days in any given calendar year. Applications must be made in writing to the Department of Health and Sanitation 60 days prior to one’s intended working dates. Similar testing or alternative course requirements apply, provided that the course/test was taken & passed within two years of the date of application. Application fees for temporary licenses are $100.
The references & restrictions on facial tattooing in the old statutes are gone. Now all tattooing is treated equally, regardless of bodily area or method. This includes tattooing with hand tools—it is now allowed, but subject to the same regulations as all other methods.

A brief note on the current testing situation: Department of Health and Sanitation at one point saw no choice but to change the upcoming test date because of the imposed furloughs. If you are wondering why it had to be THAT Friday, there were only three working Fridays in July (the 3rd was a holiday for them), so they had little choice. As you probably have heard, the legality of the furloughs has been questioned and alternatives are currently being debated. So who knows what will happen? Anyway, they were fully aware that some people are inconvenienced but their hands were tied.

We highly encourage you to read the new statutes. Here we have only summarized the key points. We have not touched on penalties, fines and violations, which have seen slight revision.

Over the past year we have established a very good working rapport with the staff of the Department of Health and Sanitation. They have been extremely cooperative and we have had extensive dialogs throughout this entire process. We feel that this is one of the most important things to come out of our efforts. We also believe that this is the first time nationwide, perhaps worldwide, where the tattoo industry has worked in cooperation with the DOH and the legislature in establishing tattoo regulations. A true milestone! We hope that tattooists in other states realize they can work WITH the DOH and legislatures to write regulations that suit each other’s needs.

If you have ANY questions, I will be on the mainland and largely unavailable, but you can contact Peggy Sucher at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Statutes

As you have probably heard, the Senate bill 1263 passed and the new statutes went into effect as of July 1st. We'll be posting a summary of the changes here shortly, under COMMENTS beneath this entry. We thought it appropriate to run it past the DOH before posting any details.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Update on Legislative bills: HB1499 & SB1263

Aloha all,

Our bill has been submitted as a House bill with a companion bill in the Senate. it has been read and referred to committees, which means we need testimony! The final draft of the bill, however, had some critical changes and omittions, so I have drafted testimony supporting the bill WITH specified revisions. Our agreed preliminary draft of the suggested bill is posted below in comments (so you can see our position & intent), and hopefully both the House and Senate bills will correspond shortly. Regardless, we need your testimony. This can be done in a couple of ways-- you can join our coalition (just send me your full name, address, phone, and e-mail address) or e-mail me at and I will send you the addresses, and a sample of how it needs to be formated via e-mail. Please feel free to send any other feedback as well.

I will be in touch shortly regarding the other bill-- the one exempting practitioners of Hawaiian tattooing from any and all health regulations, which we are NOT in support of. We do support traditional tattooing, of course, which is inclufded in our current bills, but we believe any and all tattooing, regardless of method, should be regulated by the same health precautions.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Update-- early January

Aloha all!

Nothing has been posted here for some time, as there has been no major news to report.

Perhaps the most important recent development is that Heather Lusk with the Dept. of Heath, Infectious Disease Branch has provided the Dept. of Health and Sanitation (our licensing & permitting agency) with questions so that they can finally revise our required exam. Hopefully the new exam will be in place by the next testing date at the end of January. A new study guide should be available as a downloadable PDF file online. Many of us have been as concerned about our extremely outdated exam (written in 1981) as we have been about the need for revisions to the Statutes and Departmental Rules and Regulations. We are very pleased and thankful to Heather for her putting so much effort into this, and with Rex and his staff for realizing the need for revision and implementing the new exam so quickly.

Peggy and Sean both gave Power Point presentations at a conference for employees of the Department of Health in early December-- Peggy on tattoo, and Sean on other body modification. The conference was simply informative and included no discussion of the regulatory aspects or politics. Both presentations were very well received. We are very pleased that the Dept. of Health is including us in such events and conferences and we hope that this is the start of a good, cooperative working relationship.

As for the Legislative bills for 2009, we have nothing to report. Peggy, myself and Sean have met with house member John Mizuno several months ago, but have no real updates. Mizuno is still very enthusiastic about new bills to revise the current statute. As of yet, no bills have been drafted or submitted (to our knowledge). Since the holidays are now over & our Legislators are returning to their positions, we hope to get a much better idea of where things stand and will keep you informed

My best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

APT Blood Borne Pathogens Course a success!

As you might know, yesterday Peggy gave the Alliance of Professional Tattooists course and exam for the first time in Hawai’i. It went very well, although was just a bit challenging for those of us taking it! About 10 folks from Dept. of Health and Sanitation observed (but left before the test). Heather Lusk with the infectious disease division of DOH, and Hawaii's CDC representative, was present and provided free Hepatitis B vaccines. I think it was a real success on many levels. All passed the exam. Many, according to Peggy, passed with flying colors! A fantastic free lunch was provided by CVS pharmacy. The high attendance proves that many tattooists have the motivation and interest to further their knowledge and learn more about hygiene and disease. Since it was a full house, the course will be repeated here for those that were unable to attend.

Contact Peggy ( if you’d like to be notified of future dates, including off-island dates.

If you are still in need of Hep B vaccines, contact Heather Lusk, ( to make arrangements. If there are several of you, it may be possible for her to come do it at your shop.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July update on regulation revisions

Peggy kindly typed this summary of our recent meeting. I will try to post the complete proposed revisions of the regs under COMMENTS, but it may be too large.

Update: We met with Rep. Mizuno on Monday, July 7, for an informational briefing. The DOH, the CDC and numerous other entities were present. Tricia, Sean, Conor and myself came loaded for bear, but to our pleasant surprise the DOH admitted they had not revised the test or the guidelines for over 17 years (the test has been 27 years). With their admission, our prepared arguments were rather moot. Tricia and Sean did speak eloquently before the group about the need for revisions & updates, and for the addition of body piercing regulations .

Dr. Tice with the CDC spoke first and his honest approach set the stage for open discussions. Larry Lau from the DOH spoke of educating the public about safe and non-safe tattooing. We had brought in visual aids of of sterilized good, clean technique set up, and proper barrier protection, as well as tools--both modern and traditional. I think the DOH, CDC, and the press were duly impressed!

Overall we came away with a huge sigh of relief at how smooth it all went. We are not letting our guard down, but it sure wasn't the battle we had anticipated. The media coverage was also amazing. See and

The DOH and CDC are working together now to revamp the regs and the test. Hopefully they will continue to work with us and accept our input. We'll keep you all posted of new developments. We owe huge thanks to Heather Lusk and Representative Mizuno, who both seem 100% committed to seeing this through.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Update on new bill for 2009

Our meeting on May 5th with Representative John Mizuno went very well. We are optimistic that we can create a new bill that will allow for both temporary tattoo licenses and tattoo conventions in a safe manner. See the COMMENTS under our last meeting announcement for more details.

Friday, April 25, 2008

General meeting Mon. 4/28 at 10 am

Our next general meeting will be Monday Apr. 28th at 10 am at Aisea's shop, Soul Signatures. Please come! We hope to vote in our representatives that will continue to work on statute/exam revisions, as well as other committees, such as a media team. Jas has also been invited to address the group on his proposed convention plans.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Licensed tattooists & shops are listed online

There is a list of all licensed tattooists & shops on the DOH website at

Monday, April 14, 2008

Meeting Wed.4/16 @ 10:00 am- Come!

There will be another meeting on Wed. 4/16 at 10:00 am at Aisea's shop, Soul Signatures.
Please come if you are curious about what's happened in the last 10 days, and what needs to happen from here. Or if you want to see a general tattooists association continue. My drive is toward updating our outdated regulations, and seeing that the exam is revised and pertinent (as you probably know, it's horribly out of date). Some would like an association with more general long-term goals, so if that's you, come help make it happen! We've proven we can join forces for a greater cause!