Montana Introduces Criminal Penalties Bill

On December 13, 2022, the Montana legislature introduced House Bill 115 (HB 115), which consolidates penalties for unlicensed practice across various licensing boards, including the Montana Board of Massage Therapy (Board). Essentially, instead of each licensing board having its own criminal penalty policy, this bill would allow the Department of Labor and Industry (Department) to create one policy that each licensing board would be required to follow. ABMP has summarized HB 115 below.

Cease and Desist—Injunction—Criminal Penalties
The Department may issue a cease-and-desist order if it determines, through credible evidence, that a person is acting, has acted, or is about to act:

  1. Without a massage therapy license
  2. With a restricted massage therapy license without meeting the requirements for use
  3. In violation of a massage therapy statute or rule

The Board’s screening panel may consider a maximum penalty of $1,000 a day for each day a cease-and-desist order has been issued and violated. Fifty percent of the penalty must be deposited in the Board’s state special revenue fund and the remainder must be deposited in the state general fund.

After the Board issues a cease-and-desist order, the Board may institute a cease-and-desist order from a district court. Once the case is at district court, a person who knowingly or purposely violates their district court injunction would be guilty of a felony. The penalty to practice without a license would no longer be a misdemeanor, making Montana the only state in the country to make it a felony to violate a district court order for practicing without a license.

In addition, an officer, agent, partner, or member of a business who knowingly and personally participates in a violation would be subject to the penalties described above.