State legislation in 2009 created a process for voluntary state certification of professional massage therapists. This built upon SB 731 (Oropeza, Chapter 384, Statutes of 2008), which established the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). These measures were designed to help professionalize the massage industry by creating higher standards in education. However, there were additional provisions in SB 731 that hindered the ability of local governments to prevent illegitimate massage establishments from infiltrating cities and local governments from regulating this industry.
Assembly Member Gomez (D-Los Angeles) has agreed to carry AB 1147 as a vehicle to improve upon existing law and address deficiencies. SB 731 sunsets on Jan. 1, 2015, and if needed improvements are not made, the law would be eliminated. The language in the AB 1147 adds an examination requirement and authorizes local jurisdictions to require a revocable permit.
Although the League does not an issue with the language in AB 1147, the problem lies in what isn't in the legislaiton. Illegitimate businesses have been using loopholes in current law to operate. The League has been meeting with CAMTC to express our concerns with a provision in current law which prevents local governments from regulating massage establishments at all.
AB 1147 was heard in the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee on May 7. Thousand Oaks Legislative Affairs Manager Mina Layba testified on the issue of density and overconcentration and discussed how a three-mile area in the city had more than 30 massage establishments. Huntington Beach Council Member Joe Carchio and South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez from South Pasadena also spoke or submitted comments to the committee about the need for local control and the ability to regulate these businesses.
The League greatly appreciates the ability of locals testifying firsthand on the issues affecting their city as a result of this 2008 legislation. The bill passed out committee but virtually every legislator expressed the need the League’s concerns to be addressed if this bill is to move forward.
Assembly Member Gomez committed to addressing both the concerns of the League and his district before moving this bill to the Assembly Floor. This bill needs to pass off the Assembly Floor by May 31 to pass the house of origin deadline. The committee staff agreed to convene a meeting with the League and CAMTC in an attempt to reach a compromise.
If your city has not yet sent a letter of oppose unless amended yet, please send one. The League’s opposition letter, a sample opposition letter and bill language is available online