MI update on March 5th Public Hearing

To: Michigan ABMP members

From: Jean Robinson, government relations director

RE: March 5, 2012 public hearing regarding the proposed administrative rules to implement massage therapy licensing.

Applications for licensing are NOT available yet. They probably won’t be available until the fall at the earliest. There is no action for you to take at this time. This is simply an update.

I wanted to take a moment to update you all on the public hearing I attended last week. The purpose of the public hearing was to solicit feedback from the massage therapy community regarding the proposed regulations. This is an important step in the process because it allows different points of view to be heard or brought to the attention of the board and the staff at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Read ABMP’s comment here.

The issue brought up the most by commenters who attended the public hearing was from schools with regards to the proposed student clinic rule (Rule 7).


Desmond Mitchell, the policy analyst working with the Board, will now merge all of the comments received from the public into one document. He will respond to the comments and likely provide some advice to the Board on how to proceed. The board will discuss this document, comment by comment, at its next meeting on April 9th.

The Board could agree with certain comments brought to their attention and vote to change the proposed rule, or they could keep the proposed rule regardless of comments/concerns brought forward. In some cases, public comments that were issued may not be relevant because the provision is in the law, not in the rules proposed by the Board. The Board cannot change the law, only the regulations. The Board will need to provide some justification for their decisions.

If, at the April meeting, the Board doesn’t propose significant changes, i.e. changes that could be interpreted to mean a more restrictive regulation of massage therapists, the proposed rules will again go through the proper channels to become finalized. The LARA staff at the public hearing stated that the earliest applications may be available would probably be in the fall. The Board has done an excellent job, as evidenced by the fact that there are really only a few issues they will revisit in April.

We need to be patient. I know people are getting antsy to apply for a license but it’s in everyone’s best interest that the rules adopted by the Board are consistent with the other states that regulate massage and that the licensing process be as streamlined as possible.

Reminder – this is the “grandfathering provision” in Michigan.

For 2 years after applications become available, the qualifications for licensing will be to meet one of the following:

(a) For at least 1 year before January 9, 2009, has been an active member, as a massage therapist, of a national professional massage therapy association (such as ABMP); If you were an ABMP member prior to Jan. 9, 2009, you will qualify through option (a).

(b) Has practiced massage therapy for an average of at least 10 hours per week for 5 or more years, as established by affidavit of the applicant.

(c) Has practiced massage therapy for an average of at least 10 hours per week for at least 3 years, as established by affidavit of the applicant, and has successfully completed at least 300 hours of formal training in massage therapy acceptable to the board, as established by evidence from the school or schools attended.

(d) Has successfully passed an examination (either the MBLEX or NCBTMB exams). The passage of this examination may have occurred before January 9, 2009.

(e) Completed a massage program of at least 500 hours in class training.  If you graduated from massage school after January 9, 2009, you will qualify through option (e).