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Update on Colorado HB 1320


As discussed in our previous update, Colorado House Bill 1320 was initiated this legislative session by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). The intention of the bill was to close loopholes in the current Massage Therapy Practice Act that are being exploited for illegal activity. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Foote and Carver, and Senator Cooke. They drafted the legislation because in the last two years DORA has dealt with more than 30 cases of human trafficking that have allowed criminal activity to occur via traffickers operating under the premise of unlicensed massage therapy activity without penalty. Therefore, DORA opened the Massage Therapy Practice Act to make amendments to our state statute to help address this issue. While ABMP recognizes the problem of human traffickers and others using massage therapy as a cover for their illicit activity, we have been working together with the American Massage Therapy Association – Colorado Chapter (AMTA-CO) and massage schools in Colorado in a coalition we've called the Colorado Coalition of Massage Therapists (CCMT) to ensure that the massage therapy community has a voice at the table, and that the amendments made to the Massage Therapy Practice Act will not adversely affect legitimate and licensed massage therapists practicing in the State of Colorado.

HB 1320 passed on May 2, 2016 on a third reading in the Senate, with multiple positive amendments having been made throughout the process.  We are pleased to report that through the CCMT's engagement in the process and providing input to DORA, we were able to impact the bill and have positive amendments added to, and harmful provisions stricken from, the bill. For example, initially proposed provisions in the bill including a dress code requirement for massage therapists, as well as a requirement that massage establishments must operate between the hours of 7am – 10pm, were stricken from the bill. We were also successful in striking language that was disparaging towards the massage therapy profession and indicated that licensed massage therapists were breaking the law. The bill retains the provision that local governments cannot regulate the practice or profession of massage therapy, adding that localities can only inspect massage businesses upon complaint of illegal activity to ensure that the therapists are licensed by the state, and cannot charge any fees for the inspection. The amended language also provides that a local government cannot inspect a sole practitioner massage therapist who works out of his or her home.

Additionally, although there was an initial proposal to move exempt modalities from statute to rule, that proposal was ultimately rejected, and the majority of exempt modalities will remain in the statute.

Further, language that inserted the term “massage parlor” into the state statute and directed DORA to define “massage parlor” was stricken from the bill through an amendment that was offered by Sen. Cooke. The bill no longer refers to “massage parlors” in any form and DORA will not be directed to define the term. This was a huge win as there was widespread concern that this language would have been detrimental to the massage profession. We would like to thank Sen. Cooke and Sen. Lundberg for their leadership on this issue and their continued commitment to our profession.

There were many different stakeholders working on this bill to their advantage, including law enforcement, counties and cities, massage therapists, alternative modality practitioners, the State Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Regulatory Affairs. All were pushing for their positions and the result is a bill that provides some flexibility for regulators and law enforcement while protecting massage therapists and exempt modalities.

Click here to read HB 1320 as passed by the Senate on May 2, 2016.