Why You Must Act on House Bill 185

Published: July 7, 2014

In 2006 the Massachusetts Legislature enacted Chapter 135 of the Acts of 2006, which established licensure of massage therapists.

Since that time, the Board of Registration of Massage Therapy has been faced with several issues that were not anticipated. House Bill 185 would amend the statute governing licensure of massage therapists to further protect the public and raise professional standards. (You can read more about HB 185 here.) One of the four issues included in the bill pertains to Electronic Advertising. (You’ll hear about the other 3 in futures posts.)

But let’s dive into real-person talk instead of legalese.

A quick search for ‘massage’ on Craig’s List will get you a big long list of sexual service providers (as well as a handful of actual, but unlicensed, massage therapists).

Our current law fails to directly address advertising through electronic means. This means unlicensed individuals (and/or entities) may freely solicit illicit business as “massage” and the Board of Registration for Massage Therapy cannot do anything about it.

If that’s not bad enough, even a licensed massage therapist offering illegal escort services and the like as “massage” can evade Board of Registration for Massage Therapy discipline simply by marketing those illicit services online or through other electronic means.

Bottom line: Right now there is no way to shut down individuals and businesses using online advertising to offer sexual services under the guise of massage.

HB 185 will change that. Section 4 of HB 185 provides an enforcement mechanism that will help to ensure that individuals and entities in the Commonwealth are not using electronic means to market what is essentially prostitution.

Bonus: This prong of the legislation dovetails neatly with the current initiatives that seek to promulgate a human trafficking law in Massachusetts. (Did you know the AMTA-MA Chapter played a major roll in getting that law passed, too? You can read more about that here.)

But none of this will happen if HB 185 doesn’t move out of the House Ways and Means Committee and go to a vote. This is where you can play a role. You’ll see below the Action Steps to show your support for HB 185. It is integral that you do this, and NOW.

We’re running out of time, and after two years of work, this bill will die if it is not moved of out the House Ways and Means committee in the next few weeks.

Want to stop the advertising of sexual services under the guise of massage? Follow the steps below:

Action Steps & Talking Points for Massage Therapists

ACTION #1. Find out who your State Representative is. Go to: www.wheredoivotema.com.

ACTION #2. Contact Your State Representative at (617) 722-2000 or the number from the above website and ask them to contact the Chairman Brian Dempsey and the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of House Bill 185, An Act relative to licensing massage therapists.

Sample Dialogue:

My name is: ______________________ and I am a voter in your district.

I am calling in strong support of House Bill 185, which would make technical corrections to the massage therapy enabling act and close a key public safety loophole.

  • In particular, current law does not penalize unlicensed people for advertising “massage” services online.
  • House Bill 185 would close this loophole and help protect the public by giving the Board the power to further prevent the unlicensed practice of massage therapy.
  • The legislation does not cost the Commonwealth any money, but will help prevent illegal activity.

I respectfully ask that the Representative support House Bill 185 and contact the House Ways and Means Committee about this matter. Will she/he do so?

Again, my name is ­____________________ and I can be reached at _________________ (provide telephone #) if the Representative has any questions.

Thank you for supporting our efforts to protect Massachusetts’ residents against threats to public safety.

Action #3. E-Mail Your State Representative To Follow-Up on Your Call. You may copy & paste the script above to use in your email, (just be sure to fill in the blanks with your information!) ASK THEM TO E-MAIL YOU BACK WITH ANY FEEDBACK FROM CHAIRMAN DEMPSEY’S OFFICE.

Action #4. Let the AMTA-MA Chapter know the results of your calls and emails. Email us at info@massamta.org and let us know the results of your call.

Thank you for your help in getting House Bill 185 passed.