Senate Bill 2536, sponsored by Sen. Nia Gill, has been introduced in the New Jersey Legislature. The bill would amend the current voluntary certification law by requiring mandatory licensing of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapists. While the bill positively addresses many ABMP concerns with the current law, it misses a few key points as well. To view the entire bill, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/Bills/S3000/2536_I1.PDF ABMP supports the following elements that are included in SB 2536:
- The definition of massage therapy is revised, eliminating the word “treatment” as a restriction to the scope of practice: “Massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies do not include the diagnosis (or treatment) of illness, disease, impairment or disability”.
- Practitioners who obtained state certification under the current voluntary law will be grandfathered and considered ‘licensed” under SB 2536 if passed.
- The bill designates the title of “license” rather than “certification.”
- Students enrolled in a program recognized by the Massage Bodywork, and Somatic Therapy Examining Committee (MBS Examining Committee) will be exempt.
- A limited temporary permit system would be implemented.
- While the bill does provide for pre-emption of local ordinances to some extent, ABMP would like more comprehensive language to ensure that double licensing of practitioners would not happen.
- There is no grandfathering provision for current practitioners who did not voluntarily certify under current law. If passed, the law would require practitioners to be licensed in 180 days. This is not a realistic time frame to process license applications for the estimated 8000+ massage therapists in the state. The MBS Examining Committee has also recognized this time frame as unrealistic.
- To qualify for a license an applicant would have to complete a program of 500 hours or pass an exam. ABMP will advocate for general language describing “an examination approved by the board” instead of any reference to a specific exam.
- The exemptions in the law should be expanded to include out-of-state instructors, movement educators, and reflexologists.
- ABMP would like to see an independent massage therapy board formed to oversee the regulations of the profession. Currently, the MBS Committee is under the Board of Nursing.