Massage-Law Effort Fails in California
Three years of legislative bargaining, and dozens
of meetings with massage therapists and interested parties, wasn’t
enough to get a massage-therapy law passed in California. In the
end, supporters of SB 412 blame the California Chiropractic Association
(CCA) with its defeat in early September.
“The chiropractors demanded an amendment
barring a [massage therapist] from moving a client in the passive
range of motion that was simply unacceptable,” according to
Beverly May, government-relations chair of the California chapter
of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). “The ultimate
irony is that, having defeated the bill, every [massage therapist]
in the state can continue to move clients in the passive range,
as there was not, and will not be, anything illegal about this sort
In September the CCA Web site boasted of the
massage bill’s demise with the headline, “CCA Members’
Contact with Legislators Key to Killing Measure.”
The bill, which proposed a massage-therapy title
act, was not without other critics. Physical therapists took exception
to its definition of massage, and the California Association of
Private Postsecondary Schools weighed in on education requirements.
There was also infighting within the massage-therapy field, despite
extensive coalition-building efforts by the AMTA, which spearheaded
the bill, and, later, by Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.
In June, the California Alliance of Massage &
Bodywork Schools urged its members and other massage therapists
to oppose SB 412 because of the elimination of a proposed 250-hour
tier in the bill’s education requirement.
Despite these other dissidents, however, ultimately
it was chiropractors that did the bill in, May said. “We faced
a well-heeled, motivated … opposition. In short, they were
ready, willing and able to go to the mat, and they did.”
— Kelle Walsh