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Massage Today
September, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 09

Major Massage Associations Call for CA Legislators to Kill Bill

By Christie Bondurant

After months of discussions regarding the infamous "anti-prostitution" law, the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), American Massage Therapy Association - California chapter (AMTA-CA) and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) have ended negotiations and have called for an end to Assembly Bill 1822.

The organizations blame the bill's author, State Assemblyman Sandre Swanson (D-Alameda) and the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) as having gone back on agreed upon commitments that were supposed to improve the bill for the massage community.

In a recent letter of opposition sent to California legislators, ABMP explains, "CAMTC and the major massage professional organizations worked with the author and sponsor of AB 1822 to transform it into a general clean-up bill, including further mutually agreed upon tightening of standards for owners of massage establishments."

"The sponsor backtracked last week on commitments accepted during a Senate BP&ED (Business, Professions and Economic Development) hearing, stripping out all the constructive clean-up language, leaving only provisions for two more CAMTC board seats for specified law enforcement organizations."

According to CAMTC executive director Ahmos Netanel, the turf bill, AB 1822, is merely a decoy to secure seats on the board by law enforcement, including the CPCA. "The CPCA has attempted to undermine the board by forcing a Trojan Horse into the board." The chief's association was the driving force behind the original, and highly controversial, version of the bill. (See Massage Today article.)

Netanel who has spent several months working with the CPCA believes the police organization is not looking out for the best interests of the massage community and instead is "dangerous to the board." "A hostile police organization will handicap our ability to protect the public," he said.

In a recent opposition letter sent to senators, CAMTC states: "After hours of negotiation, the language dismantling statewide certification has been discarded, but the bill still contains a requirement to seat the very law enforcement officials who just recently tried to do away with it." 

According to the ABMP letter: "This bill would add a seat for a designated organization, the California Police Chiefs Association, that seeks to dramatically weaken CAMTC. California professions traditionally self-regulate. The imposition of law enforcement seats onto a health profession board would establish a dangerous precedent that could easily spread to boards regulating other professions. The responsibility of the CAMTC is to regulate the massage therapy profession, not act as vice cops - to aid law enforcement, not act as law enforcement."

Amanda Whitehead, AMTA-CA government relations chair, shared the same sentiment. "Appointing law enforcement personnel to a self-regulating board would be both unprecedented and unnecessary," said Whitehead. "The presence on the CAMTC board of representatives appointed by an organization that has proven to be openly hostile to CAMTC would be a huge step backwards for public protection and fair business regulation in California.  For all these reasons, the AMTA-CA must oppose AB 1822."

Recently, Whitehead sent out a letter to AMTA-CA members requesting that members contact their state senators to vote no on AB 1822. 

All three organizations believe the CAMTC is already effective enough in protecting the public by screening out applicants who do not intend to practice as legitimate massage therapy professionals.

ABMP explains: "The League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties already have CAMTC board seats; the League's initial appointee, a retired LA Vice officer provided instrumental help in developing astute CAMTC applicant screening procedures."

"The board is functioning very well, very effectively, and very balanced," said Netanel. "We're asking legislators to vote no on AB 1822."

The bill is currently in the State Senate, where it will be voted on in the next couple of weeks. According to Netanel, the deciding vote of the bill's fate will take place this month. "Should it pass the Senate Floor, it would then go back to the Assembly Floor for a concurrence vote. The 2009-10 Legislative Session adjourns on [Sept. 1] at midnight," said Netanel.

As this bill has potential to harm the massage community and is ineffective in protecting the public from illegal operators of massage businesses, Massage Today has created a "Vote NO on AB 1822" e-mail form that will be sent to all members of the California State Senate as well as the bill's author. Tell CA legislators to vote no on AB 1822 by clicking here:

Editor's note: This article has been updated since its original post on Aug. 13. 

Related article:

Update: AB 1822 Language Continues to Evolve


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