ADVOCATE FOR MASSAGE THERAPY AS A RECOGNIZED & RESPECTED HEALTHCARE PROFESSION
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Congratulations to everyone! WSMTA attended the August 21, 2019 City of Bremerton Council meeting and the City Council passed the Bremerton City Ordinance 5373 -- Chapter 5.14 Massage and Reflexology Businesses ordinance without any changes. Click here for the final language of the ordinance.
WSMTA thanks the City of Bremerton City Council, Chief of Police and City Attorney for all of their work. WSMTA would also like to especially acknowledge the efforts of the Chief of Police in helping develop the current City of Bremerton Chapter 5.14 Massage and Reflexology Businesses ordinance language and getting it into the City Council's system so quickly. He also really went out of his way to meet and talk with some of the members of the local Bremerton massage therapy community who had expressed concerns, he kept them informed of what was happening with the ordinance and listened to their input.
Monday Morning, August 5, 2019 the Bremerton Chief of Police contacted WSMTA about its proposal. After a discussion, by the afternoon of that same day, the Chief of Police had drafted new ordinance language based on our proposal. At that point, we involved the AMTA-WA in the discussion and notified the Washington Reflexology Association about the discussion and kept them informed throughout the process. During that week we (Chief of Police, WSMTA and AMTA-WA) massaged the language (pun intended) of the revised massage and reflexology business ordinance.
Even though the original proposed massage ordinance had been withdrawn from the August 7 City of Bremerton City Council Agenda, WSMTA attended and thanked the Council for listening to the massage profession and allowing the original language to be pulled. We also thanked the Chief of Police for his efforts in putting the new proposed ordinance language together. There were also 5 or 6 other local massage therapists who attended as well.
By August 13, 2019 the final draft of the revised ordinance had been completed by the Bremerton City Attorney -- the language was approved by all of the involved parties. The Chief of Police was able to get the revised ordinance accepted to the City of Bremerton City Council agenda at their August 14, 2019 study session. WSMTA attended the meeting along with two local massage therapists. The City Council members were very amenable to the new revised ordinance language and accepted the ordinance on to the agenda without any changes to it.
WSMTA has emailed its proposal to the City of Bremerton City Council, City Attorney, Mayor and Chief of Police on Sunday August 4th. To read WSMTA's proposal, click here.
Last week we did a lot of research. During the January 2019 WA State Board of Massage meeting, an assistant city attorney and a detective from the City of Kent had been invited to present to the Board of Massage what they did in November 2018 to shut down 18 suspected prostitution and human trafficking entities posing as massage clinics in their city and how they have continued to keep them out. Fortunately, one of our members had been present at this Board of Massage meeting to hear their full presentation. What Kent did and how it used it's ordinances became part of the basis for our proposal. We contacted the City of Kent assistant city attorney who had presented to get more details and then contacted our advisor on prostitution and human trafficking, Lavon Watson, for information on other municipalities which had been successful at keeping out illegal massage businesses within their city limits. We also researched a lot of municipal ordinances in western Washington.
As a result of our research, we decided to use the City of Bellevue ordinances as the model. Boiling down the language, the ordinance is simple: only licensed massage therapists can do massage in city limits and if the persons doing massage are not licensed massage therapists then that is a misdemeanor offence. Business owners who employee non-licensed massage therapists also receive a misdemeanor and business licenses can then be revoked because of the misdemeanor. We provided other supporting state regulations along with steps that the City of Kent had done to enforce its regulations and to work with the business community after these illegal businesses were shut down.
Close to midnight on Friday July 26, WSMTA received notification from one of its members about the August 7 City of Bremerton City Council Meeting and the massage ordinance language that had been proposed (Bremerton City Ordinance 5373 -- Chapter 5.14 Massage Businesses). The ordinance language is the City of Bremerton's attempt to have regulations by which they could limit and shut down prostitution and human traffic entities that were posing as massage clinics. In trying to manage this, the language is very restrictive and punitive on law-abiding massage therapists and creates an unsafe working environment for them. For a copy of the proposed ordinance click here.
Over the weekend, WSMTA strategized how we should approach this ordinance: should we spend our efforts opposing it or should we spend our efforts in trying to research what works for other municipalities and propose that information to City of Bremerton City Council?
Since social media outlets started to talk about the proposed City of Bremerton ordinance on Massage Businesses on Saturday July 27th, WSMTA assumed that there would be plenty of feedback to the City of Bremerton about what was wrong with the ordinance by individual massage therapists and by organizations, so WSMTA has decided to research what other municipalities have done to keep organized prostitution and human trafficking entities which are posing as massage clinics out of their city limits and what their city ordinances are that support there ability to do so.
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Advocate for Massage Therapy as a Recognized & Respected Healthcare Profession