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League Immediate Past President Bogaard Joins Assembly Members Bonilla, Holden and Gomez to Unveil the Massage Therapy Act of 2014

April 23, 2014
City officials from throughout California participated in a news conference this morning with Assembly Members Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) and Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) to announce a major reform measure to overhaul California's existing massage therapy law.
The proposed Massage Therapy Act of 2014 was drafted to address the problems raised by SB 731 (Oropeza). This legislation, enacted in 2008, created a voluntary certification process for massage professionals. SB 731 also limited local land use authority in this area. The Massage Therapy Act of 2014 would remove broad restrictions on local governments’ land use authority so that cities and counties could more effectively zone and regulate massage establishments and shut them down where there is illegal activity or a threat to health and safety. Combined with restored local government fee authority, higher professional standards and tougher requirements for certified establishments, this legislation provides a comprehensive solution that is greatly needed.  
League Immediate Past President and Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard stood at the podium with the Assembly members to announce the new legislation and called it an important proposal. “This bill provides a balanced solution to the regulation of massage therapy businesses, including restoring local governments’ land use authority. The state will set standards for individuals who want to obtain a massage therapy certification. But local governments will also retain authority to ensure massage businesses conform to community standards and protect the public safety of our residents from individuals engaged in illicit activities,” said Bogaard. “The Massage Therapy Act of 2014 will make our cities and counties safer. With this legislation, law enforcement will gain the tools needed to regulate massage therapy businesses and close down those that conduct illegal operations and engage in human trafficking. Cities will now be able to shut down illicit businesses in conjunction with sting operations conducted by law enforcement.”
In summary, the Massage Therapy Act of 2014’s major changes:
  • Return Land Use Authority to Cities and Counties. The broad preemption of local land use authority for “certified-only” massage professionals has been deleted, returning local land use control back to the cities and counties.
  • Reconstitute the California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC). In order to bring new leadership to CMTC, the board will be reduced from 20 members to 11, with a majority being local government or new public member appointments. The League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties and California Police Chiefs Association will each have a dedicated seat on CMTC.
  • Reinforce Local Massage Ordinances. Local governments will be explicitly authorized to adopt ordinances that would require certificated massage professionals and registered massage establishments to comply with reasonable health and safety requirements, abide by hours of operation, and pay appropriate business license fees. The Act also explicitly reiterates the power of local governments to require certification as a precondition to practice massage in the jurisdiction.
  • Provide Revocable Registration for Establishments. A massage establishment that registers as using only certified and vetted massage therapists will enjoy a narrow set of privileges, but both CMTC and local governments will have the authority to revoke or void the registration if the terms of the registration are violated.
  • Raise Professional Standards. Professional standards will be raised by mandating the passage of an examination, specifying the content of required coursework, requiring continuing education, and imposing a 500 hour education requirement for all therapists. CMTC will also phase out the less rigorous massage practitioner certificate.
  • Expand Council's Disciplinary Authority. In order to address unprofessional behavior by certificate holders, the list of prohibited activities has been expanded to include a prohibition on sexually suggestive advertising of massage services and chronic failure to pay administrative fines.
  • Require certification of Operators. To increase establishment accountability, day-to-day managers who operate massage establishments will be required to hold a certification to work in a registered establishment, and will be subject to CMTC discipline.

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