mass 2Massage therapists in Massachusetts are working together to educate legislators about House Bill (HB) 185, which aims to close an unintended loophole in the 2006 massage licensing law. The bill would clarify the law’s language to help prevent online advertising for sexual services under the guise of massage.

“The current law does not regulate the electronic advertisement of massage therapy services,” said Mary White, law and legislative chair for the Massachusetts chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA-MA). “Individuals pretending to be massage therapists can advertise illicit services through electronic means without fear of penalty—HB 185 closes this loophole.”

According to White, members of the state chapter are working together to get the bill passed into law. White said her organization held two “Days on the Hill,” where more than 130 people from the state senate and house attended events to learn about the importance of HB 185, as well as the health benefits of massage.

White said massage therapists also have met with leaders of the house and senate to discuss the necessity of HB 185, and massage therapists have testified on the legislation at a public hearing as well. The chapter has sent correspondence, dropped off fact packages and coordinated member-constituent calls to legislators in support of HB 185, White said.

Greg Hurd, director of career development and outreach for the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, said HB 185 is another important step toward defining massage as a legitimate profession.

“This bill further clarifies that massage therapy is not to be associated with services of a sexual nature,” Hurd said. “We want to make sure that anyone who does advertise massage is actually a massage therapist.”

According to White, HB 185 has received a favorable report from the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and is currently before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“We have been working with the speaker’s office, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and our legislative sponsors to get this matter considered by the Massachusetts House of Representatives,” White said. “If we are successful in doing so, we will then work with our senate sponsor and the senate president to advance this matter before the end of the legislative session in January 2015.”