Archive for Monday, March 13, 2017

Editorial: Massage law needed

The key is to tailor the ordinance so that it doesn’t unfairly affect legitimate massage businesses.

March 13, 2017

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The city of Lawrence is right to pursue regulatory licensing of massage venues in the city.

There are more than 40 massage businesses in Lawrence, none of which is subject to oversight by the state, county or city. Regulations could help prevent or identify criminal enterprises that try to use the massage industry to mask illegal activities such as human trafficking and prostitution.

Police cite the 2015 case involving Lawrence’s Spring Massage, which through online posts was drawing men from outside Lawrence, as an example prompting the need for regulation. Following an investigation, two Chinese nationals, Chen Li and Guihong Xiao, were later convicted on charges related to allegations of human trafficking at the business.

Human trafficking is a form of slavery that is believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world, according to the FBI. It includes forced labor, domestic servitude and commercial sex trafficking.

Kansas is one of only a few states that do not regulate the massage industry, which means oversight falls to cities and counties. At urging from the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, the city has spent the past year drafting an ordinance to regulate the massage industry.

The key for the city is developing an ordinance that isn’t unfairly punitive to legitimate health care businesses that offer therapeutic massage services. A group of massage and bodywork businesses has criticized a preliminary draft of licensing regulations, arguing the proposal does not follow industry standards. Specifically, they are concerned that some of the requirements could violate client confidentiality and the privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The ordinance includes the possibility for immediate-entry inspections and a requirement for massage businesses to keep a daily registry with client names and addresses, the service requested and the service provided.

City Commissioner Matthew Herbert said some kind of ordinance is required but that the scope of the ordinance needs more review.

“All parties agree that a problem exists,” Herbert said. “All parties agree that we want to enable the Lawrence police department to be able to do everything they can to stop this. However, we don’t agree that some of the language inserted into the ordinance needs to be there.”

Herbert is taking the right approach. Certainly the City Commission can work with the massage industry to address privacy concerns while implementing regulations that would ensure that criminal entities do not proliferate here. Such an ordinance is in the best interests of all involved, especially legitimate therapeutic massage businesses.

Comments

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I have been going to a massage therapist in Lawrence for many years. She has over 1400 hours of training, and helps me with problems in my shoulders, neck, arms and back. I have no problem with massage therapists being licensed, as long as legitimate therapists are treated fairly. The police have no need of a list of their clients, nor should they have the right to intrude into massage sessions. When I was a deputy sheriff in SN county for 30 years, we had the same problem with massage parlors along south Topeka Blvd. operating in trailers. They were fronts for prostitution. We sent undercover deputies in, made good cases, arrested them, and closed all of them down. None of this impacted legitimate massage therapists, required client lists, or intrusions by law enforcement except when the case was made, and the prostitutes arrested. I do not know for sure, but I believe SN county developed a home rule resolution to deal with this problem. Why not ask them? You are going about this all wrong. You should not punish everyone for the actions of a few criminals.

Jim Slade 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Licensing - when the government takes away your right to do something, and then sells it back to you.

Paul Beyer 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Yes, we should never license people like doctors, lawyers, teachers, law enforcement. Just let anyone hang out a sign and practice any profession they wish.

Bob Summers 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Just let anyone hang out a sign and practice any profession they wish.

How long do you think they will be open if they are no good at what they do? They will not be open long.

The health industry is in the condition it is because of Liberals in government making rules that have nothing to do with care.

Jim Slade 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Because a medical professional or someone practicing law is TOTALLY the same as someone rubbing your body.

Rick Masters 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I wonder what kind of ending this will have.

David Holroyd 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What about the massage being done by the city, county and school district with mill levy and fake valuations.

There is not even a happy ending with that massage!

Brock Masters 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What does licensing really do to ensure the massage studio isn't engaging in illegal activity that some common sense and police work can't already do.

Hmmmm.....if only we had licensing I might be able to tell the difference between Massage Envy and the place that just opened that advertises "pretty girls" on Craigslist.

Here is a hint. If you walk in and you think you stepped back in time to the 70s the place is probably legit., but if you walk in uniform and everyone runs it probably ain't.

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