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Massage Today
June, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 06

AB 1822 Update: CAMTC Certification Expected to Remain Intact

Committee Hearing Friday, May 28

By Christie Bondurant

Strong backlash from the massage community over California's proposed anti-prostitution bill has caused its proponents to back down on the most controversial aspect of the law: local police certification for work permits.

According to the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) and the American Massage Therapy Association California chapter (AMTA-CA), the backers of Assembly Bill 1822 have felt the significant impact of protests from the massage community and have agreed to amend the bill in a more positive manner.

These proposed amendments come after recent discussions between CAMTC, AMTA-CA and proponents of the bill.

In a May 24 press release put out by the AMTA-CA, "the CAMTC and statewide certification would remain intact." In the press release, Amanda Whitehead, AMTA-CA government relations chair, states an "expected" amendment to AB 1822: "All investigations for CAMTC certification would be done by the CAMTC." 

Whitehead thanks the massage community for their overwhelming support in influencing proponents of the bill. "Please know that your letters, emails, internet postings, and publicity have both influenced lawmakers and inspired those of us whose job it is to deal directly with the legislature," said Whitehead. 

Whitehead also credits Assembly Member Sandre Swanson, the author of the bill, for his willingness to work with the massage community and is hopeful that his new amendments will be satisfactory to all stakeholders.

"Assemblymember Sandre Swanson and his staff have shown a real and responsive interest in the needs of the massage community," said Whitehead. "These amendments can absolutely be drafted in a way that both protects the massage therapy profession and strengthens the ability of local law enforcement to control prostitution and human trafficking."

In a letter sent to Massage Today, Ahmos Netanel, CAMTC chief executive officer states that while CAMTC does not officially support the bill as of yet, he also believes that major improvements have been put forward. According to Netanel, the proposed amendments will include:

  1. Remove all language regarding local certification of individual massage therapists.

  2. Keep language adding two law enforcement members to the CAMTC Board: a Police Chief's Association position and a Sheriff's Association position.

  3. Amend the establishment statute.

According to Netanel, the CAMTC is working on proposed amendments regarding massage establishments to discourage owners of potential illicit businesses.

"Even the author of the previous bill (Senate Bill 731) believed the establishment language needed to be revisited," said Netanel. "Obviously, our goal is to cooperate with local law enforcement without creating new disadvantages for the massage therapy profession... CAMTC is obtaining best practices from other states in regards to establishments. We want to craft amendments that resolve local concerns without returning to draconian zoning measures."

Netanel also thanked the massage community's efforts for the expected improved amendments: "The educational effort mounted by CAMTC, AMTA, Massage Today and the rest of the profession made a significant impact on the members of the Appropriations Committee." 

Completion of the amendments to the bill is expected this week. The Appropriations Committee hearing will be on Friday, May 28. 

The bill would have essentially reverted California back to the failed system that was in place before SB 731, allowing local authorities to issue work permits in each jurisdiction a massage therapist would work.

The political firestorm began after Swanson's office introduced the massage bill on an urgent basis, calling 89 percent of a sampling of CAMTC applicants either prostitutes or persons with questionable backgrounds. Those percentages of CAMTC applicants were reported in a survey compiled by the CPCA, who (after repeated requests by Massage Today) have yet to provide evidence of their findings.

Nevertheless, the thinly sourced survey catapulted the bill through various governing bodies to where it currently sits at the State's Assembly Appropriations Committee.

However, the massage community's strong opposition to the bill and the CPCA's claims were finally heard by the Appropriations Committee. We wait expectantly for the published amendments.

If the bill passes the Appropriations Committee on Friday, it will then have to pass both houses of the legislature and requires the governor's signature to become law. According to Swanson's office they have deleted the "urgency" clause in the proposed amendments, which will now require a majority vote, instead of the two-thirds vote reported in preceding Massage Today articles.  

Massage Today will continue to follow this story, providing updates as available. For other Massage Today articles on this issue, read:

 

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