Minnesota Introduces Licensing Bills for Massage and Asian Bodywork Therapies

The Minnesota legislature introduced Senate File 967 (SF 967) and House File 973 (HF 973) in late January. The bills would require statewide licensure for massage and Asian bodywork therapists.

ABMP worked with a coalition of professional associations, massage therapists, and massage therapy schools in Minnesota to draft these bills over the past four years. SF 967 and HF 973 are fair bills that, if signed into law, would not be unduly burdensome on practitioners.

ABMP is in support of SF 967 and HF 973 because these bills propose adequate licensing requirements, licensure by prior experience (“grandfathering”) opportunities for those currently practicing, and reasonable licensing fees. Currently, Minnesota has a patchwork of inconsistent regulatory licensing throughout its municipalities. A statewide license would level the playing field for massage therapists. In addition, ABMP believes that if SF 967 or HF 973 is signed into law, licensure would provide the industry a unified scope of practice, professional standards, and accountability—positive steps toward ensuring safe and quality services, offering consumer and practitioner protection, and elevating the massage and Asian bodywork community.

ABMP encourages you to support this legislation and needs your help letting the Minnesota legislature know this should be a priority. You can find your representatives and senators here. ABMP created a sample advocacy letter you can adapt to elevate your voice, experience, and expertise.

Highlights of the Bills

Massage therapy—the manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to promote, maintain, and restore health and well-being using any of the following techniques: stroking; gliding; lifting; kneading; jostling; vibration; percussion; compression; friction; holding; passive stretching within the client’s physiological range of motion; movement or manipulation of the soft tissues; active assistive and resistive movement; and stretching.

Asian bodywork therapy—therapy based on Chinese medical principles with the intent of promoting, maintaining, and restoring health and well-being by affecting the body and emotions using any of the following techniques: pressing; soothing; kneading; vibration; friction; passive stretching within the client’s physiological range of motion; active assistive and resistive movement; stretching; and tapping, movement, exercising, or manipulation of the soft tissues.

If SF 967 or HF 973 is signed into law, anyone using the terms “licensed massage therapist,” “LMT,” “licensed Asian bodywork therapist,” or “LABT” must have a license to practice. Other complementary and alternative health-care practitioners, whose own scope of practice permits some massage work, do not need to have a massage therapy license under these bills.

Licensure by Prior Experience
Those currently practicing in Minnesota would be able to qualify for licensure by proving they have at least two years of prior experience in massage or Asian bodywork therapy during the past five years as well as satisfying a criminal background check and having qualifying liability insurance in place. Proof of experience must be submitted before January 1, 2024.

Licensure Requirements
If SF 967 or HF 973 is signed into law, new applicants for a massage or Asian bodywork license must provide the following:

  • A completed application that lists an applicant’s credentials, description of disciplinary actions against the applicant, history of drug or alcohol abuse, and any prior convictions.
  • Proof of completing a massage therapy or Asian bodywork program that is licensed or registered with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education.
    • Massage and Asian bodywork therapy programs would need to be at least 625 hours (500 contact education hours and 125 clinical hours).
  • Proof of liability insurance (your ABMP membership provides liability insurance satisfying requirements set forth in the legislation).
  • Passing an examination approved by the Massage Therapy Advisory Council.
  • A criminal background check.

License Renewal and Fees
If SF 967 or HF 973 is signed into law, practitioners would be given a license valid for two years that must be renewed every two years. Below are the initial and biennial license fees:

  • Initial application: not to exceed $285.
  • Biennial renewal: not to exceed $185.

Municipal Preemption
If SF 967 or HF 973 is signed into law, local municipalities would be preempted from requiring massage or Asian bodywork therapists to obtain a municipal professional license. Municipalities could still require local business permits for massage and Asian bodywork therapists, which is something all business owners and professionals serving the public are typically required to obtain.

Please reach out to ABMP’s Government Relations team at gr@abmp.com if you have questions or comments.