August 18, 2010

The Honorable Darrel Steinberg
President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814 FLOOR ALERT: AB 1822 OPPOSE

Senator Steinberg,

The California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) is the statewide organization recently established by SB 731 (Oropeza, 2008) to certify massage therapists to practice their profession in California. We began certifying applicants less than a year ago and have seen great success so far. Today we write in opposition to AB 1822, because statewide certification is working. The bill is premature. The amendments send the bill in the wrong direction and set a bad precedent for all California boards.

To date we have certified 12,200 applicants to practice massage in California. We have investigated massage schools handing out fake transcripts to ensure applicants with degrees from those schools do not become certified. In fact, we have submitted over 3,000 applications for denial from applicants who were previously approved to practice massage by local law enforcement This were due to problems CAMTC found with their backgrounds or transcripts – problems that were missed by local law enforcement. These applicants slipped through the cracks of a patchwork system of various local permitting processes.

CAMTC has a more thorough background check process than local law enforcement. CAMTC checks the applicant against the FBI and DOJ databases. Applicants are also checked with every local jurisdiction where the applicant has lived or worked in the 10 most recent years and currently lives or work, or plans to work. Additionally, CAMTC is able to check applicants against the national massage therapy databases to find out if the applicant has been denied licensure in other states. That is why statewide certification is so important.

AB 1822 began as an attempt by the sponsors to use the red herring of human trafficking to undo the successes of statewide certification of massage professionals just recently put in place by SB 731. The bill would have moved certification back to the various ineffective and often oppressive local vetting processes used before SB 731 was passed. After hours of negotiation, the language dismantling statewide certification has been discarded, but now in its place is a requirement to place officials on the board who just recently tried to dismantle it.

Forty-four other states regulate massage therapy with self-regulating boards, which provide a much higher degree of public safety and efficiency than the patchwork system of local regulations that California provided. None of these other state boards have law enforcement appointees to their boards. All other licensed and certified professions in California self-regulate through professional boards made up of experts in that field along with members of the public. This bill would be a serious departure from that concept. Will AB 1822 open the door for law enforcement appointees to now be added to all professional boards in California?

Not only does the bill now mandate that law enforcement have two more positions on the statewide board than the two they are already permitted through the League of Cities and the California State Association of Counties appointments, one of those positions would be granted to an organization that has demonstrated its intention to hamstring and then dismantle the CAMTC.

Clearly, statewide certification is working. AB 1822 is premature. The amendments send the bill in the wrong direction and set a bad precedent for all California boards. CAMTC fervently opposes AB 1822 and urges your no vote on the measure.

Sincerely,

Beverly May
Chairwoman, California Massage Therapy Council

cc: Members of the Senate

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