Photo by Michael Rueter

Photo by Michael Rueter

by Brandi Schlossberg

On Aug. 28, Assembly Bill (AB) 1147—a bill that changes regulation and voluntary certification standards for massage therapists in California—was passed by the California State Legislature. As long as the governor does not veto the bill by Oct. 1, which is not expected to happen, AB 1147 will go into effect as a law on Jan. 1, 2015.

“This new law raises the bar for what is required for CAMTC [California Massage Therapy Council] certification, which will elevate the profession,” said Ahmos Netanel (pictured right), CEO of CAMTC.

Beginning Jan. 1, any new applicant must have 500 hours of education from an approved massage school and also pass an approved exam in order to become a certified massage therapist through CAMTC. The new law eliminates the certified massage practitioner (CMP) credential, which required 250 hours of education, but does authorize the renewal of existing CMP credentials.

“For massage professionals who choose to become CAMTC certified, certification still provides full portability of the certificate,” Netanel said, “which means that they can legally practice anywhere in the state without having to obtain a local permit to provide massage for compensation.”

AB 1147 does give local agencies back the power to enforce their own local ordinances, but Netanel said it also specifically prohibits cities and counties from zoning massage businesses as adult entertainment.

Fingerprinting and a background check have been requirements for certification since inception, Netanel said, and this requirement will not change in 2015. However, the new law does change the way CAMTC handles applications from registered sex offenders.

“Under the new law, registered sex offenders who apply for CAMTC certification must be denied,” Netanel said, “and CAMTC certificate-holders who are registered sex offenders must [have their certificates] revoked.”

Under the current law, registered sex offenders can apply for certification, but conviction of a sex offense alone is proper basis for denial. Netanel said CAMTC “reviews every situation on a case-by-case basis and determines whether the conviction is substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a certificate-holder before deciding whether to certify or propose denial.”

As for California massage schools, Netanel said CAMTC has had the legal authority to actively approve massage schools since 2012, but has been focused on un-approving “problem schools.” Now, CAMTC will move forward with the active approval process.

According to Netanel, 2015 will be a transition period, during which massage schools can apply for approval and CAMTC can go through the process of vetting each applicant. He said the official list of approved California massage schools should be complete by 2016.

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