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It has recently come to ABMP’s attention that the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) – Alaska Chapter has been working with Representative Sharon Cissna on a bill which would provide for the regulation of massage therapy, including the formation of a state massage board to implement the law.

ABMP’s analysis of the bill has identified the following concerns:

  • Entry-level education - This bill would give the state board authority to increase the entry-level hours and composition of supervised instruction, instead of establishing the entry-level standard in statute. One reason licensure is implemented in a profession is to ensure a minimum standard of training in a field in order to protect consumers. Five hundred hours is the national standard as recognized by ABMP, AMTA, and the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) and twenty-seven of the 39 licensing states. ABMP believes the board should not have the power to randomly increase the minimum hours required.
  • Examination - Naming a specific acceptable examination in statute does not allow for growth in the field. ABMP would recommend general language such as, “an examination approved by the board.” The examinations provided by the independent organization the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) have no government accountability. The NCBTMB was once the only option if an exam was a qualification for licensure, but now there are choices. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) has begun implementation of the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) that has already been recognized by six licensing states. It would make sense for Alaska to recognize this exam as well.
  • Board Composition – If a state board is established, ABMP recommends that language be inserted that limits the number of members who are affiliated with massage schools to one. “No more than one professional member of the board may be an owner of or be affiliated with any massage school.
  • Continuing Education – Of licensed states, continuing education requirements for renewal of a license vary from none to twelve hours per year. Before the state mandates such requirements, ABMP asks for careful consideration of the cost and travel involved for Alaskans pursuing continuing education requirements.
  • Pre-emption – If state regulation is adopted, there is no need for local licensing. We recommend that the bill include a pre-emption clause. “Beginning the effective date of this act, a local unit of government shall not establish or maintain licensing requirements for a massage therapist licensed under this act.

ABMP has contacted Representative Cissna. It is early in the process, the Alaska Legislative Session will convene in January 2008. ABMP will provide updates on