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Senate passes licensing bill for massage therapists on 28-6 vote

Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, urged the Senate to approve SB 1295a to license massage therapists in Idaho. "It is not unusual to find massage therapy prescribed as part of a physical therapy program," he said. Licensing, he said, would "assure that the provision of this therapy is accomplished in a ... safe and medically appropriate manner."

Sen. Steve Vick R-Dalton Gardens, said he believes occupational licensing in general is a bad thing. "It limits competition and ... will drive prices up," he said. He quoted a report calling occupational licensing rules in states generally "onerous" and "pointless." He said, "I have a good friend who's a massage therapist and he actually wants me to vote in favor of this bill." Vick said he's received numerous emails, all in favor of the bill, but "they're all from the incumbent cartel - they're there to protect their interests," he said, "and I just don't think that we need to do this."

Hammond said 43 states license massage therapists. "Right now you license people to cut your hair - not a very invasive procedure," he said. "Massage therapy has become a part of medicine, a whole different area of professional work. ... It's not a trade." He said, "I will tell you that I worry a lot more about who is providing that kind of a service to my grandchildren, or my grandparents, than I do about who's fixing the plumbing under my sink." Hammond said if a massage therapist will be in a closed room with a potentially vulnerable client, it makes sense to ensure "that they are somebody who will do what is appropriate medically and professionally."

The Senate voted 28-6 in favor of the bill; it now moves to a House committee. After that vote, the Senate adjourned for the day.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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