The Utah Brouhaha

A couple of the officers of the Utah Chapter of AMTA are upset with me for a video I put out yesterday about H.B. 243 that is in the works in their state. You may read the bill here.

This bill removes the term “therapeutic” from the description of massage. It also modifies the language in their Practice Act to include “recreational massage.” Is there anyone among us who would like to be known as a recreational massage therapist? Please weigh in on that. I am personally not acquainted with anyone who would like to be known that way.

I read the bill in its entirety, when it was brought to my attention, and then, AMTA member that I am, went to the Utah Chapter’s website to see what they were doing about this. I was shocked to see no mention of it anywhere, so during the course of the video I encouraged AMTA members to get in touch with their board members and mobilize them to take action on this, and I urged all Utah therapists to contact their legislators to protest what in my opinion is a detrimental change in their language. I posted it on the Utah Chapter’s FB page, as well as my own.

Imagine my disbelief when I received a communication from one of their officers on my youtube channel telling me that I should have contacted them before making my video and telling me to take it down asap. They are of course free to remove it from their own page. They are not free to tell me to remove it from mine. It has had over 700 hits in the last 24 hours and been shared by over 400 therapists. One therapist had made a positive comment about H.B. 243 on FB, the last time I checked. Too many others to count were all as distressed about it as I was.

I also received a lengthy and polite response from one of their officers, that stated  “There is no mention of this on the Utah Chapter website. This matter has purposely not been published on our website at AMTA Utah Chapter precisely for the purposes of NOT bringing attention to the fact that the Massage Therapy Practice Act was being “opened for changes” in this legislative session,” and ended with the request that I remove the video without comment, and to check with them in the future before I make any reference to Utah again.

Sorry, but that will not be happening. Perhaps you have heard of the First Amendment.

Perhaps you have also heard that all legislation is an open book–or it is supposed to be. It is the public’s right to know. If something is affecting massage therapists, it is the massage therapist’s right to know. And it is the mandate of any public board and any non-profit organization to operate in a transparent manner. Anything less than that is unacceptable. Nothing is, nor should it be private, about changes in a Practice Act.

The two AMTA representatives, one of whom emailed me and the other who left a comment on my youtube page,  obviously feel differently than I do about this, and that’s their right. We can agree to disagree. But as much as I am personally mortified by this bill, I am even more mortified that someone would think that massage therapists shouldn’t be informed of what is going on in their own state, given the opportunity to weigh in on it, and to openly hear their professional organization’s stance on it, until after the fact. That doesn’t work for me, and it shouldn’t work for you. I have preached this sermon many times about knowing what is going on in your state, and this is a prime example of that.

Any state’s Practice Act may be up for changes at any time.  And when a precedent is set in one state, it’s that much easier to get it passed in another. Practice acts are always “open” to changes, assuming any interested party can manage to get it on the legislative calendar. Here in NC, we had a detrimental change that our Board had no knowledge of  at all until it was a done deal. That’s not a good thing–and keeping secrets from the massage therapists who are affected by proposed changes in legislation is not a good thing, either. I refuse to apologize for spreading the word, or for expressing my opinion on it.

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