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Massage Today
April 16, 2010

Proposed California Bill Turns Clock Back: Local City and County Regulations Reinstated

By Christie Bondurant

Editor's note: Assembly Bill 1822 was amended April 13, 2010. Updates were made to this article to reflect those changes. 

Less than two years after the passage of a law establishing a single statewide certification system for California therapists, a new law is being proposed that would, in effect, turn the clock back to the days when therapists had to acquire permits to practice in every local jurisdiction where they have clients.

Assembly Bill 1822 proposes a program that requires city and county officials to administer and regulate certification to massage therapists, effective immediately. The bill, introduced by State Assembly Member Sandré Swanson on Feb. 11, 2010, would also require separate city and county fees to be administered.

If AB 1822 passes, the current system established by Senate Bill 731 would be phased out and individual city or county regulations would be reinstated, certification would no longer be voluntary and additional fees would be specified by cities and counties. This is essentially the system that was in place before the reforms of SB 731.

SB 731 (passed in September 2008) established a two-tier voluntary certification system that allowed a massage therapist to practice lawfully throughout the state without being subject to city or county ordinances. It also established the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), which acts as the current regulator of massage therapy certification.

However, this new bill would effectively reinstate the old system, and invalidate the purpose and origin of the CAMTC. According to AB 1822:

"This bill would, until January 1, 2016, require any person who administers massage for compensation to be certified by the nonprofit Massage Therapy Organization or certified, registered, or licensed by a city, county, or city and county.

"The bill would add 2 members to the board of directors of the organization who would be selected by specified peace officer associations.

"This bill, at the election of the governing body of a city, county, or city and county by resolution and by concurrence of the head of the local law enforcement agency in that jurisdiction, would also transfer specified duties from the Massage Therapy Organization to the local law enforcement agency.

"Upon that election, this bill would require local law enforcement agencies to approve or disapprove applicants for certification by the organization based upon his or her fitness to practice massage therapy, as specified, and would prohibit the organization from providing certification upon disapproval.

"...In order to ensure the public health and safety with regard to the practice of massage, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately."

To read the full text of AB 1822 click here.

A public hearing on this bill will be held on Tuesday, April 20 by the California State Assembly Committee on Business, Professionals and Consumer Protection. The American Massage Therapy Association, California Chapter is encouraging therapists to send their letters and emails to the committee immediately. A formatted letter of opposition is available on the AMTA-CA Web site at:

Massage Today will continue to follow this story, providing updates as available.


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