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Massage Today
May 17, 2010

Massive Protest Against CA Law That Targets Massage Practitioners

By Ramon G. McLeod, Editor-in-Chief

More than 1,000 massage professionals have fired off protest letters against a proposed California anti-prostitution law that effectively returns the state to a widely criticized old system that puts primary authority for issuing practitioner work permits in the hands of local police departments.

The unprecedented outpouring was directed at state assemblymembers who are about to hold hearings on Assembly Bill 1822. The bill essentially neuters a two-year-old massage certification law that placed certification in the hands of a state board, the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC).

The bill goes goes before the state Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, May 19.

Many of these letters were sent to members of the Appropriations Committee from an email form on Massage Today. The form was posted Monday morning and almost instantly sparked a massive response.

(Ed. Note: Go here for more information and a complete history of Massage Today's coverage of this bill. )

Here is a sampling of letters from the community:

From Michael Roberson

Chairman and Committee Members

Please, OPPOSE AB1822. This bill would have us go back to a system that did not work. The exaggerated context of including human trafficking with massage therapy is just that, exaggerated. Nor does this bill do anything that will stop prostitution, nothing has to this point. Having a bill, a law, that is trying to regulate prostitution or human trafficking, has no part tying into the profession of massage therapy.

When SB731 was passed, it created the not-for-profit organization the California Massage Therapy Committee (CAMTC), which has demonstrated, even with the overwhelming influx of applications, to have all of them completed to date, answered, and justly determined if the applicant should be certified or not. The stringent background check, not only covers a national criminal background check, but also the applicant's education, and professional standing. These are items that the local police and law enforcement are not able to do. Please allow the CAMTC do the job it was created to do, and more importantly, doing very, very well.

From Anthony Arr

The CAMTC is already doing a great job and this would put things back to the way they were before the statewide system. In the old system it was much easier for prostitution to get through local security checks. The CAMTC has helped to curb this problem significantly. On top of that, we now have one set of standards to adhere to instead of ones for each city that we wish to work in. This makes things less complicated and more streamlined for the entire industry in California. Please vote NO on AB 1822.

From Melody Louann Hall

PLEASE vote NO on AB 1822. This bill would be very ineffective and very difficult and costly to implement, as well as making the process of getting licensed more arduous than ever. It is another inefficient bureaucratic effort to stop prostitution and human trafficking. Although I would love a solution to this problem, this is NOT a viable solution!

My wife and I are professional massage therapists with years of training and experience. If someone wants to find something other than professional massage they will despite any attempts to alter the current law. The current law is effective, efficient, cost and time effective - for both the state AND the therapists. The old law is not a solution. As stated in the evidence, the new law has prevented more unprofessional massage therapists from getting a license than the previous law. Perhaps changing the law puts more money into the cities, but at the expense of the professional massage therapist, an industry already with challenges financially, as many services industry of today are struggling with.

From Perry Harward

I would hate to work in county where this law would be in place. It would make it more difficult to work in California.

Currently, each school does a background check on each student applying to college. They also check a number of references. Each college looks over each student in each and every class and sees how well they do in an intense 6 months-to-a-year course of study. Usually that will be enough to weed out those that are in it for illegal purposes. To get a state license I have to pass a standardized test, which is not easy I might add. Then the state board has a separate background check with professional references. Then you pay your fees and wait for the license. If there is any misconduct, massage clients know they can contact the state board.

IF this law passes, it will mean that a massage therapist that has 2 part time jobs will have to go to 2 different police districts to get the appropriate permits to work. It is almost as if a legitimate massage therapist is treated like a guilty criminal even before they get their job. No other job has this kind of scrutiny.

Please vote no on AB 1822. Let police handle the prostitution, but don't treat legitimate massage therapists as criminals.

From Steven Bunis

Please vote NO on AB 1822.

It will also be a severe burden on those therapists who live and work near multiple municipalities. In my case I would have to buy three different permits to work in my area (North County - San Diego). This is an unnecessary (and large) financial burden as well as an unnecessary duplication of work by the respective police departments.

From Patrick Wilson

Please vote NO on AB 1822. It is unnecessary and will do nothing to stop prostitution and human trafficking that is not already being accomplished by the CAMTC. This will however force me to get 5 different city licenses at an average of $150/ city so that I can practice massage in my local area.

From Terry J Solomon

We have worked for years to get state licensing and get away from the inconsistent regulations imposed by the cities. If you work in several cities this can cost thousands of dollars. We finally get a licensing that is fair and then you want to take it away. Therapists will go back underground, take their payments in cash, and there will be no tax revenue to the state.

From Susan B Blumin, LMT, BCSI, NCTMB

Please allow CA massage therapists to be tested, screened and certified by their state peer board, vote NO on AB1822. It is not necessary and will not stop prostitution or human trafficking. Police departments don't have a clue as to whether a massage therapist is qualified or not, legitimate or not.

Those that practice prostitution will continue to do so. CA needs to follow in the footsteps of the states that have been successful in certifying and licensing their massage therapists. Please take a step forward, not backwards.

From Kathryn Stewart

Regulation by local law enforcement instead of a centralized location allows prostitutes and fraudulent therapist to pack up and move to another jurisdiction if they get in trouble.

This is a GIANT step backward from the regulation that was developed in California a year ago.

From Greg Doss, LMT

Please vote NO on AB 1822. As a licensed massage therapist for ten years, having lived and worked in several states including California, I have experienced many different types of licensing policies, from local to state and national certification.

Local enforcement does absolutely nothing to prevent prostitution and trafficking. If anything, it allows criminals to find areas of lax enforcement to continue their activities. The CAMTC can prove their background checks are better at weeding out undesirable elements. California needs a state certification just like so many other states. Please vote NO on AB 1822. Thank you,

From Pamela Grant-Klarer

Please, NO on AB 1822. The damage to the reputations of thousands of qualified, trained massage therapists caused by the demeaning requirement of registering next to sex offenders and adult entertainers (in paperwork which I've had to cross out what my "stage name" is) is not only embarrassing but inappropriate, dilutes the profession and should be stopped. NO NO NO on AB 1822.

From Patricia Wingo

I vehemently oppose and vote "NO" on "AB 1822" as passing it will set the massage therapy profession back many years and cost massage therapists way too much money per city they work in per year as well as involving the police dept.

Honorable massage therapists are protected and regulated against the unscrupulous activities of the prostitution world via certification by the NCBTMB and the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) as well as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). The CAMTC's job is to do everything possible to stop prostitution and human trafficking. We do not need AB 1822. VOTE "NO" ON "AB 1822).

From Ken Engebretson

Please vote NO on AB 1822!!!! As a nationally certified massage therapist, licensed to practice in Virginia, I am convinced that California will be able to see that AB 1822 is going to hurt the profession and not help those victimized by the criminal element that was fostered in great part by California's local licensing requirement.

From Beth Granado

Please vote "No" on AB 1822. Requiring that individual cities &/or counties manage the eligibility of a massage therapist to practice in their area allows for inconsistencies in quality across city/county boarders. It potentially prohibits employment for therapists due to licensing borders, costs, procedures and waiting periods.

Utilizing an industry-specific governing board brings credibility to the profession. Said board has working knowledge of specific ethical & practical requirements and issues, and therefore enables consistently competent, ethical and knowledgeable therapists to be productive business partners with the communities in which they work. This board also minimizes the cost the individual municipalities would incur to employ oversight of therapists at their own expense.

From Cassandra Anderson

Please vote NO on AB 1822. The CAMTC is conducting more thorough background checks and rejecting applications that were previously approved by the city/county agencies.

The CAMTC was formed to protect legitimate massage professionals from those who try to use the industry for ulterior motives and, I believe, has effectively reduced human trafficking and prostitution. By having the state regulations, licensing is consistent throughout the state with strict requirements, whereas some cities may have very low or no standards to obtain a massage therapist license as long as a fee is paid.

From Katrina Troolines

I urge you to vote NO on AB 1822. Not only is this a duplication of the services that CAMTC already provides California's citizens, and hence a waste of our taxes and human resources, but this bill also rolls back the treatment of these health care professionals to a state of presumed guilt of lawlessness.

A vote for AB 1822 is a step backwards and would demonstrate one's inability and/or willingness to evolve with their own constituent's wishes. Massage and bodywork therapies are one of the largest growth health care services recommended by doctors and sought by California's citizens.

From Sharon Baker

Please vote no on AB 1822. Statewide certification allows many more checks and balances to provide safety for clients and for legitimate massage practitioners. It is very effective in the states that do this, and CA is just starting to implement it - give it a chance! Considering returning to the archaic method of treating an entire legitimate profession as suspects in the sex trade makes CA appear incredibly ignorant of the normalcy and respectability of massage therapy practices all over the world.

From Dylan Mariah, RN, LMHC

I am a registered nurse, licensed mental health counselor who used to be a licensed professional massage therapist and I am appalled by what I have read of this new proposed legislation.

It will not enhance any public protections, will not enhance the quality of therapeutic massage available and will not stop prostitution. Further, there is absolutely no benefit to making a misleading link between licensed professional therapeutic massage and prostitution.


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