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Massage therapists may need to get background checks if bill passes

There is a new bill on the table to make licensed massage therapist get background checks before practicing. Currently, massage therapists are only required to have an active license. The House health and welfare committee unanimously agreed to introduce the bill last Friday.

On Thursday, KIFI/KIDK talked with massage therapists in Idaho Falls and got some conflicting responses.

“I actually think this is a really good thing because I like the idea of there being some background check, more accountability for massage therapists,” said Laura Plocher, the lead massage therapist at Advanced Health Chiropractic and Massage Therapy.

“On the surface it feels like it’s a good thing, but it is also punishing everyone that’s good for maybe one person that acts out,” said David Hay, a massage therapist at his business David Hay Massage.

Idaho law does not require a criminal background check to get a massage therapist license, but that soon may change. Recently introduced legislation would require background checks for licensed massage therapists in Idaho.

“It weeds out the unsavory massage parlor-type-thing that we used to have. I was really happy when they actually had us do the state licensing. And even though we have to pay a little bit more every year, it is actually protection for us because we then have some people behind us — to help us,” Plocher said.

However, there is the question of what offenses could prevent someone from getting a license. If it’s small, “That person might have already served their time on that and doesn’t have a problem with that particular thing again. That’s keeping them out of the workforce. It’s just continuing punishing them for their mistake that they made in the past,” Hay said.

Hay says getting a massage therapy license is not easy to begin with, so people with ill intent are weeded out in that process. He also compared this bill — saying Idaho doesn’t require people who handle food to have background checks.

“It’s just another burden from the government on to the person. And it’s just another step that they’ll have to accomplish,” Hay said.

If passed, applicants will have to pay $37 to have the background check in addition to other licensing fees.
“As far as the fee goes, I don’t feel like that’s very much. Probably a background check will be a one-time thing we’ll have to do — it won’t be a yearly thing like the yearly fee we have to do,” Plocher said.

Idaho currently has more than 2,100 licensed massage therapists that would need background checks if the bill passes. The bill still has to clear a legislative hearing, and that has not been scheduled yet.

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