WA State Board of Massage Meeting Report – July 8, 2016

WA State Board of Massage ReportReport from Washington State Board of Massage Meeting – July 8 2016

Marybeth Berney,  WSMTA President.

Two Directors on the WSMTA Board (Marybeth Berney and Amy Thomason) attended the morning portion of this meeting on behalf of WSMTA members. This is the report from that meeting…..

First I will say that neither Amy nor I were able to attend the May meeting, but it became apparent very early on in this meeting that the May meeting must have really gone “sideways”. Buy this I mean, it sounds like the Board and staff had difficulty controlling the audience and keeping the meeting on track.

After the Board approved the Consent agenda (item 1), Blake Maresh, Executive Director for the Board of Massage, gave a presentation on the “Open Public Meeting Act”. As a side note, the power point slides that he used during this presentation were just sent out to the Massage Board LISTSERVE last week, so they may be in your inbox. Here are the highlights…

Open Public Meeting Act-Chapter 42.30 RCW, was first enacted in 1971. It states that committees, commissions and boards exist to aid in the conduct of the public’s business and that deliberations are to be conducted openly. However, the chapter also says…that those who interrupt or disrupt a meeting can be asked or directed to leave, if this does not restore order the room can be cleared. The meeting can be rescheduled or can continue without an audience.

The bottom line is: the OPMA guarantees your right to attend and observe, but not to interfere or disrupt. Mr. Maresh was very clear; he wants the public and the profession to be a part of these meetings, provided they can observe the proper decorum. I was a member of the state massage board for 7 years. The rule writing process is arduous, time consuming and very important to the profession. There is no mandate that rules development happen in a public board meeting. The profession has been allowed into the development process because the board and staff thought we could be of help! These board members are volunteers giving freely of their time and expertise and it pains me greatly that some of my fellow practitioners would not treat them with the respect they deserve. Please, it is important that the profession be allowed to participate. If you cannot behave properly/professionally then do not attend.

Agenda item number 4 was the Credentialing Report. Joanne Miller reported that 93% of massage license applications are being processed within 9.5 days. The new Education Endorsement form is working well and they are making some updates to the Animal and Intraoral application. The Facilities Credentialing division is drafting a new school application. All of the info from the previous application will be there, plus a few standardized questions that exist across all health facilities. This will allow for massage training programs to be added to the health facilities database, allowing for some additional tracking of data and metrics.

Agenda item number 5 was an update on the, Online Licensing Portal. It is currently being tested with about 8 professions (none are massage). Eventually all health professions and 5 types of health facilities will use this portal for licensing and renewal. This portal will allow for more information gathering across all health professions.

Board of Health Rule Making Process

That brought us to agenda item 6…another presentation by Executive Director Blake Maresh on the Rulemaking Process. Here are the highlights…

The Dept. of Health (DOH) in conjunction with the Board opened chapter 246-830-Massage Practitioner in 2014. This chapter has not had a comprehensive review since its adoption in the early 1990’s. RCW 43.70.041, enacted in 2013 in response to a legislative directive requires a comprehensive review every 5 years.

The goal of rulemaking is to…clarify, streamline and modernize the rules governing massage in WA…protect and improve the health of all people in WA (This is the purpose of the DOH and all health Boards, Commissions and Committees)…make sure that only individuals who meet and maintain minimum standards of competence and conduct are allowed to provide massage services to the public.

The Rule Development Process starts when the DOH files a CR-101-notification of intent to do rule writing. This form is used to notify stakeholder of the subject(s) to be reviewed and why rules on this subject(s) may be needed and how interested parties can participate.

Rule development workshops. The board has held 12 rules workshops as part of board meetings, while this is not required under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA, chapter 34.05 WAC) this has allowed the board to engage with members of the public/profession in the earliest stage. When the board feels that they have a solid draft they will direct staff to file a CR-102 (Proposed Rule Making) with the Office of the Code Reviser. A CR-102 has not been filed yet. The board has chosen to review ALL the massage WACs in a “lump”. The board could decide to move ALL of these rules forward under a single CR-102 or they could decide to just move certain rules forward and hold some back to continue to work on the language of those rules. Once they file a CR-102 we will know what rules will move forward at this time and which, if any, they may choose to continue to work on and bring forward with a separate CR-102.

Once the CR-102 is filed a 6 month clock starts to tick. During this time the DOH provides interested parties an opportunity to submit formal comments on the proposed rules, either in person at public hearings or in writing or online. At the conclusion of the public comment period the DOH will consider all comments received and must file the final adopted rule language with the Office of the Code Advisor. This is done with the publication of the Rule-Making Order (CR-103) form.

There are many things the board must take into account with rule writing that are sort of “hidden”. They must attempt to mitigate the costs to small businesses of implementing the rules; they must demonstrate that the rules will have benefits that out way the cost of implementation, they must show that they are not arbitrarily limiting market participation. In other words they have to make a solid case for why and how these rules will protect the public.

Here is a summary of changes so far…

  • Transfer of Training hrs. HB 2781 required the board to write rules to allow board approved programs to develop programs that allow students to transfer credits earned in a non-board approved massage program.
  • Breast massage, this sets guidelines and requirements for doing breast massage.
  • Draping, sets guidelines and requirements for proper draping.
  • Record keeping, requires all massage practitioners to document treatment.
  • Licensure by endorsement, provides a pathway for WA licensure for MTs licensed in other jurisdictions.
  • Training, increases training hours to 625 and makes student clinic mandatory.
  • Continuing education, makes CPR and First Aid a requirement for renewal and requires an individual teaching to have a minimum of three years’ experience in the subject they are teaching.

Now remember all of this is draft. The board has yet to authorize the staff to file the CR-102 on any of these rules, so we are not even in the formal comment period yet.

If you would like to observe, the next WA State Board of Massage meeting is Sept. 8 in Spokane WA and the final meeting of the year is Nov. 4 in Olympia. If you are not on the State Board of Massage LISTSERVE…get on there. It is your duty to yourself, your clients/patients and your profession to keep abreast of what changes are coming down the pike.


Marybeth Berney

WSMTA President

Resources:  Board of Massage Rules in Progress.

Department of Health Rule Making Process


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