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Eye On Boise

Long-sought massage therapist licensing bill heads to gov’s desk

Long-sought legislation to license massage therapists in Idaho, as do 43 other states, has passed the Legislature and headed to Gov. Butch Otter's desk. Among lawmakers who have worked on such bills in the past is former state representative and later Congressman Bill Sali.

SB 1295a, sponsored by Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, passed the House today on a 39-29 vote, after earlier passing the Senate 28-6.

Rep. Jim Marriott, R-Blackfoot, told the House that currently, with no licensing, anyone can claim to be a massage therapist. "There'll be no assurance that citizens will receive the proper care from a trained therapist without that," he said.

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, said massage therapy has become an increasingly accepted part of medical treatment. "It is not uncommon for medical doctors to prescribe ... massage therapy as part of the overall recovery program from certain medical procedures," he said. "This request should be approved."

Massage therapists around the state requested the licensing bill; they would pay fees up to a maximum of $200 a year to cover the costs of the licensing program. Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, a physician, said, "This is truly a new treatment modality, or an old treatment modality that's found new usefulness. I think patients deserve to know who's been trained and qualified to deliver this scientifically based and effective treatment, and who is giving a rubdown."

Opponents spoke out against any new licensing. "I'm always concerned about the impact of new licensing schemes which basically preclude people from employment," said Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise.  Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, said, "The more restrictions we have, the less jobs we have."

Marriott said, "I just want to remind you that right now, I can advertise to be a massage therapist with no training."

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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