House Bill 908-FN sponsored by Representative Baroody has been introduced in the New Hampshire General Court and is scheduled to be heard in the Executive Departments and Administration Committee on March 20, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. The primary focus of the bill is to establish a Board of Massage Therapy, Bodywork, and Somatic Practitioners. The proposed board would oversee the regulation of massage therapists and would require the registration of somatic and bodywork practitioners, which are loosely defined in the bill. The board would consist of 7 members including four licensed massage therapists, two somatic practitioners, and one public member. Massage therapist members would be required to be residents of the state for at least three years and have been licensed for at least 5 years prior to their appointment. The bill would give the board authority to review, approve, and deny curricula and instructor applications for all massage therapy programs, including those that exist in degree-granting institutions. The board would be able to set minimum educational standards and hours required to obtain a license. The proposed bill would also double the continuing education requirement from twelve to twenty-four hours every 2 year license period. ABMP does not support the bill’s passage in its current form. Our concerns about the bill: If enacted, the bill would seat considerable power and control with the Board of Licensed Massage Therapists, specifically:
- Requiring program approval through the board would essentially double-regulate massage schools. Schools are currently approved by the New Hampshire Postsecondary Education Commission. This occurs in many regulated states; ABMP encourages the bill’s supporters to establish limits to the board’s oversight re: school approval.
- ABMP will not support legislation that does not stipulate an educational requirement in statute; allowing the board to determine the requirements to practice potentially exposes the profession to arbitrary changes in minimum standards based on the whims of only a few people.