Bills Changing Massage Therapist Laws Gaining Momentum

Around Arkansas
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LITTLE ROCK, AR – Two bills aimed at changing the law for massage therapists are gaining momentum in the state legislature. One of those bills addressed sexual misconduct and human trafficking passed out of committee Wednesday.

The bill filed by Rep. David Meeks of Conway prevents a person convicted of a misdemeanor from receiving or holding a state-issued massage license. It’s expected to go to a full House vote Friday. (Click here to read Arkansas House Bill 1562)

Meanwhile, another piece of legislation would dissolve the Arkansas State Board of Massage Therapy, transferring authority under the Department of Health.

The bill sponsored by Senator Bill Sample of Hot Springs, is one of several proposed solution to the Board’s cash flow issues. In January of 2015, then-Governor Mike Beebe issued $60,000 from his emergency fund to keep the state agency afloat, without staff reductions. The board maintains license renewal periods in recent years have caused revenue to fluctuate biannually. (Click here to read Arkansas Senate Bill 145)

A bill that stalled in the Senate but raised eyebrows, slashed the board’s staff in half, eliminating the state’s only inspector. (Click here to read Senate Bill 10.)

This follows KARK’s investigation into complaints filed against several Asian massage parlors in Central Arkansas, alleging unlicensed therapists were allowed to perform sex acts on clients. Those reports are attached to this story.

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