Massage Legislation: Who’s Helping Us?

Some of us in the rank and file of massage therapy are beginning to feel like we’re fighting a war, with all the unfavorable regulation that is coming down the pike here lately.

In California, AB 1822 is threatening to undo all the work that’s been accomplished there in the past year or so. In Florida, HB 633 is singling massage therapists out in the interest of preventing “human trafficking.”  Although it’s no surprise that Florida has a lot of illegal immigrants, and I can understand requiring any employer to show proof that employees are legal, I don’t see the need to lump “lewdness, assignation, and prostitution” in the same sentence as “massage”. Contractors and farmers use a lot of immigrant labor. Are they being held accountable for the same thing?

When legislation is afoot that stands to crush our rights, who is helping us?

Some massage therapists have the mistaken idea that our state boards are supposed to exist for the benefit of practitioners, but that’s not true. Public boards exist to safeguard the public, and that doesn’t include us. They can’t lobby for therapist rights.

AMTA and ABMP both have government relations representatives, as does the FSMTB and the NCBTMB. I’m acquainted with most of those folks, and they are all good people who want the best for the profession. However, we can hardly expect one or two association representatives to be everywhere at once, to contact every legislator, or to stop something detrimental to us in its tracks.

The fact is, if we don’t help ourselves, we’re not going to get the respect we deserve as professional massage therapists. If the AMTA, ABMP, FSMTB, and NCBTMB send all their GR representatives to Florida to talk to the legislators, that’s a handful of people who will all fit comfortably at my dinner table. They can stand there and say “I represent X number of massage therapists.” I sincerely appreciate their efforts, and sometimes it works, but it just can’t be counted on to have that much impact.

On the other hand, if the 80,000 + therapists in Florida would contact their legislators, that’s enough people to get their attention.  If even a tenth of the therapists in California showed up at a legislative session, that would be a loud voice.

Massage legislation, like any other legislation in America, is often hidden inside some pork-barrel bill that doesn’t have squat to do with massage. If the Federation, AMTA and ABMP didn’t keep on top of legislative actions and disperse that information, most of it would probably go unnoticed until it was a done deal, except by the small number of us who make it a point to keep up with it. That’s a scary thought.

I’m at a loss on what to do. We can’t institute a mandatory draft, to institute interest in the politics of the profession. If we could, I would. We might have come a long way, but in the year 2010, to still have language about prostitution mentioned in the same breath with massage therapy in regulatory bills is a serious sign of how far we still have to go.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

7 thoughts on “Massage Legislation: Who’s Helping Us?

  1. Deborah Herriage

    Wow, Laura! I thought it was just me. It seems like therapists are up against so much right now, its difficult to care about fighting legislation that gets passed as part of the “pork barrel” grist. Its always hard to know what to do, if you could do anything but write letters or show up at meetings with any number of other concerned therapists behind you. I appreciate that you wrote this though. I am seeing that you are doing this work, trying to support your community. I’ve been thinking about getting more involved with the Texas Chapter of AMTA, but need to carve out some time. My business is struggling and I’m working on getting a treatment room near my neighborhood, as well as preparing for the NCBTMB, teaching yoga, writing a book, and working part time for a chiropractor, not making a lot of money.

    Thank you for your efforts – you are appreciated.

    Sincerest regards,

    Deborah Herriage, LMT, RYT
    Spicewood, Texas

  2. Mark W. Dixon, NCTMB, HHP

    Hi Laura –

    Thank you for your strong call to action. Legislators listen to nothing like they listen to a well organized, articulate message from large masses of people, and it has never been more important than now. Six years of hard work by leaders of the massage and bodywork profession stands on the edge of a cliff, at risk of being pushed off by a political agenda hiding behind the flimsy mask of human trafficking.

    It was particularly disappointing to see that ABMP has decided not to oppose California’s AB1822, the Human Trafficking bill sponsored by the CA Association of Police Chiefs. See below (and note the last line under “Opposition”):

    REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

    Support

    California Police Chiefs Association (sponsor)
    Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
    California Correctional Supervisors Organization
    California Fraternal Order of Police
    California Narcotics Officers Association
    California Peace Officers’ Association
    California Police Chiefs Association
    Chief of Police Rick Esteves, City of Downey
    Chief of Police Robert M. Luman, Newport Beach Police Department
    City of Fountain Valley
    Long Beach Police Officers Association
    Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association
    Riverside Sheriffs’ Association
    Santa Ana Police Officers Association

    Opposition

    American Civil Liberties Union
    American Massage Therapy Association
    California Chiropractic Association
    California Massage Therapy Council
    East Bay Community Law Center
    Magic Hands Healing Center
    National Employment Law Project
    Numerous individuals

    May those individuals become more numerous – soon.

    All the best —

    Mark

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