Update to NY Tattoo Legislation - Taking Action
03:04 PM
revolution tattoo.jpgA few weeks ago, in this Tattoo News Review, I wrote about NY Governor Cuomo signing Bill S1421-2015, which requires tattoo studios and body piercing studios "to use single-use needles and inks, to obtain consent forms from customers and to maintain customer consent forms for a period of not less than seven years." As I noted in that post, I find it to be a poorly drafted bill, but particularly problematic is the definition of single-use ink as "a sealed and pre-filled package of ink that is only intended for a single use." Based on this definition, tattoo artists would be limited to expensive pre-packaged "ink shot" products -- with limited color palettes, and arguably, lesser quality -- rather than maintaining the industry standard of using disposable ink caps, in which bottled inks of any brand are poured into small containers and thrown away after the tattoo is done.

In response, I was excited to see the tattoo industry mobilize to change the law, which is anticipated to go into effect this December. A petition entitled "Change NYS Bill S1421-2015 to allow the use of disposable ink caps in tattooing," by Bridget Punsalang, circulated with over 45,500 signatories at present. I'm generally not a big fan of online petitions because, unless it garners a lot of media attention, they don't pack a big punch with politicians, and can be a form of "slacktivism," whereby people feel they supported a cause without doing much more than typing their name in an online form.

BUT people did not sit on their butts in this case, and in fact, are working very hard to lobby legislators to get the bill changed and have some real input from the tattoo industry.

Last week, tattoo artists met with Senator David Carlucci, who sponsored the bill, at Michael O'Herien's Revolution Tattoo Co. in Pearl River, Rockland County. There, Senator Carlucci discussed the impetus behind the bill and its process, and tattoo artists got to voice their opinions on changing the law so that it is practical to the realities of tattooing and safe for all. You can watch went went down at that meeting on this YouTube video.

Today, I spoke to Michael, aka Mick Metal, and here's what he said:

After our meeting with Senator Carlucci a group of us got to work.  We were given a proposal of what the rewording of the bill would look like and we were not completely satisfied. During this past week, we have be tossing ideas around and rewording the bill to work for everyone.  We have finally come up with wording that we are all satisfied with. The group of us are now spreading it through our appropriate channels and getting it into the hands of other tattooers that would be affected by the bill.  We are also in the process of scheduling another sit down with Senator Carlucci and giving him our proposal, so then he can submit it through his appropriate channels to correct the situation that we are in.

If anyone would like to get involved, I suggest that each person call their senator and assemblyman, and have a conversation with them about how this could negatively effect them. I would urge each and every person to talk personally and passionately, however, communicate with the respect that our elected officials have earned.
I also spoke with veteran tattoo artist (and one of the founding members of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists) Pat Sinatra, who was part of that meeting with Senator Carlucci. Here's what she wrote:

The meeting I attended at Revolution Tattoo Company in Pearl River, NY was hosted by tattooist/owner Michael "Mick" O'Herien. There was a good turn out of artists from Long Island and up the river as far as Kingston. By that Wednesday, Senator Carlucci had already constructed a rewrite and was looking for input from the artists who met with him. So, that's in the works.

The wording about the ink isn't the only issue with this legislation, Bill 1421. They want the client to sign a form that says we set up in front of them, when the standard procedure is to fill out the paperwork first, then set up. These few things, although we may be nitpicking about it, are the items which will certainly turn around to bite us if left vague or over-regulated. We encourage artists and collectors to continue to sign the petition to change NYS Bill S1421-2015.

Also, there is a growing movement to initiate legislation to regulate the sales of tattoo supplies to licensed professionals only and making it a felony to do so. Current legislation in many states simply "taxes" the professional tattooer while providing no enforcement of the laws in dealing with the "home tattooer." This must change as the home tattooer has easy access to supplies, even these ink caps in question. That is still no guarantee that these under the radar practitioners have any training in bloodborne pathogens. Cross contamination is the leading cause of Hepatitis C and the sanitarians who are supposed to uphold the law, choose to close their eyes and do nothing. Or their hands are tied by the laws themselves. This movement asks professional artists to become actively involved in their own legislation; get to know your county and state representatives, meet with them regularly or legislation like this new bill will come down on you while your head is buried in the sand.
This issue of tattoo supply sales to the masses is another big discussion I've been having with tattooers -- worldwide -- and there are people mobilizing around it, especially now that tattoo kits are available for purchase at places like Walmart. A petition was made for this as well, but as Mich & Pat said, more is needed if real change is to be effected.

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