CA Legislative Update:  October 12, 2016 – AB 2194 Signed by Governor Brown

The Massage Therapy Bill (AB 2194) passed the Senate with a vote of 39 to 0, and the Assembly 77 to 1. Governor Brown signed it into law on September 21. It goes into effect on January 1, 2017.

The bill does a few valuable things for the profession.

What does AB 2194 accomplish?

  • Most importantly, it extends voluntary certification through the CAMTC for four years (through December 31, 2020). This creates stability for us as certified massage professionals and makes it easier for local governments to create better local ordinances.
  • It requires that local governments “impose and enforce only reasonable and necessary fees and regulations on massage businesses and massage establishments”.  This amendment creates a foundation for us, as professional massage therapists, to work with local governments in advocating for better regulation in our own cities.
  • It prevents local ordinances from requiring showers; a seemingly small thing, unless you are trying to find affordable office space on a massage therapist’s budget.
  • It clarifies language making it illegal for local jurisdictions to require, and charge for, redundant background checks on CAMTC certificate holders when they apply to open a massage business.
  • Includes intent language suggesting that local governments give consideration to using revocable establishment registrations as a regulatory tool. This strategy gives local governments a quicker and more cost-effective means of closing brothels posing as massage businesses.

You can read the bill here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2194

While these amendments do not solve all of the problems we have with discriminatory local massage ordinances that exist across the state, they are solid improvements to the Massage Therapy Act.

I would like to offer a warm thank you to the hundreds of you who took part in our advocacy efforts this last year. Your testimony at hearings in Sacramento, visits with your state legislators, and emails in support of changes to the Massage Therapy Act made these changes happen.

We can now consider what work still needs to be done. What changes would you still like to see in the regulation of massage therapy and massage therapy businesses? Please send your suggestions to gr@amta-ca.org.

CA Legislative Update:  June 28, 2016 – AB 2194 Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Business and Professions Committee passed AB 2194 at the end of a veeeeeerrry long hearing.  You can see the current text of the bill here.  While it has a number of amendments that are helpful to therapists trying to open establishments of their own, it is still short of the relief we need.

Assemblymember Salas promised in the hearing to extend the sunset date to four years from the three years currently in the bill.  This grants stability to California’s regulatory framework, which is good for both practicing therapists and local governments.

There were almost fifty massage therapists in attendance for the hearing.  This is a very visual way to show the senators that this bill is important to us.  An extra helping of appreciation to those therapist that came from southern California; you had two long days making that trip  Thank you to all of you for your dedication.

There will be more work to do in July and August if we are to get the support we need to stop cities from singling out massage establishments for expensive and discriminatory regulation.  Please keep an eye on your email and check this page for updates.

AB 2194 has been referred out to the Senate Appropriations Committee (as before, this should be a formality) before going to the full senate for a vote.  The legislature is in recess for the month of July, so the next movement on this bill will be in August.

And yet, there is still much for us to do before then.

Stay tuned.

CA Legislative Update:  June 24, 2016 – Senate Hearing

So far, we have heard from about thirty or forty of you who are planning to join us in Sacramento on Monday.  Not a poor showing for a hearing of this type, but more massage therapists in the room will provide the visual reminder legislators need to support the substantial changes that are STILL needed in AB 2194.  So if you are still on the fence, hop off and come join us.

What you need to know:

Event:  Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee Meeting
Date:  Monday, June 27, 2016
Time:  1pm
Location:  State Capitol Building (1315 10th St), Room 3191

You will find the agenda here.

It will be a very busy day in the State Capitol, so allow extra time for parking (see below) and getting through security. Plan to be in the Capitol Building by 12:15 and meet us in the cafe on the 6th floor. We will take about fifteen minutes to cover any last minute information you will need for, or questions you have about, the hearing.

Public Comment. Unlike the March 14 Sunset Hearing, this hearing is NOT an informational hearing. That means that if you choose to speak when invited you need to keep it VERY BRIEF. Specifically:

  • My name is <your name>
  • I live (or work) in <your city>
  • I support AB 2194 with amendments that assure the right of certified massage therapists to practice in every city in California
  • Optional: Mention, in ONE SENTENCE, a problem you have had in your business

This last sentence could mention an extraordinary local requirement or expense, a duplicate background check required, a business you couldn’t open or had to close, etc… ONE THING. BE BRIEF. If you can’t be brief, leave it out. Put it in writing instead.

Dress for Business. In this case, theirs. It only ever helps your cause when you show respect for the people whose support you are seeking. The first sign of that respect is proper dress. Think job interview.


Parking.  Here are two recommendations for parking lots:
State Capitol Parking Garage
1303 10th Street (at L Street)
Back up is at the Hyatt Regency lot
1209 L Street (between 12th and 13th Streets)


Be respectful in the meeting. It has been said that politics is a blood sport, but it is best not to act like fans. It is also said that politics is theater. So think really stuffy theater, where even applause is too much. Lawmakers sense very subtle shifts in the room. So let them admire you being subtle. No booing, no cheering, no clapping. Just focus.
Hang around (but not long). We will likely gather after the meeting to debrief and say thank you to all of you for making the trip.Timing. These hearings run on the legislators’ schedules and not ours. It may start late, and it may run late. Be patient. Bring a crossword puzzle. Leave before it’s over if you must. Do the best you are able.

CA Legislative Update:  June 20, 2016

Please let us know if you will be joining us for the Senate hearing on Monday, June 27, by sending an email to gr@amta-ca.org.  Include in that email the proper spelling of your first and last name.

If you are not completely clear as to why this hearing is important, please see the June 15 update.  And there are more background documents toward the bottom of this page.

And please send an email to the committee and to your state senator in support of AB 1147 and requesting further amendments.  Please feel free to add your personal story to the prepared text of the email.  Apart from adding text of your own, it should take you all of two minutes to send both emails.  So please do that right away.

Use this link to send an email to the Senate Business and Professions Committee:
Use this link to email your Sate Senator:

Thank you.


CA Legislative Update:  June 15, 2016

Colleagues –

Mark your calendar.  Invite your friends.  Pack up the car.  Come to Sacramento on June 27.

Event:  Senate Business and Professions Committee Hearing

Date:  Monday, June 27

Time:  1pm

Location:  State Capitol, Room 3191, Sacramento, CA 

There is a LOT to do this month.

AB 2194, the Massage Therapy Act Sunset Bill, has been amended, and likely will be amended again before the end of the month. But, so far we are still not seeing our most important issue addressed — local governments treating massage establishments as if they are brothels.  The legislature may still act, but not if we don’t remind them of the importance of fixing this problem.

How does that get done?  Three ways.

First:  Come to Sacramento on June 27 for the hearing.

The Senate Business and Professions Committee will meet on Monday, June 27, at 1pm.  We need to fill the hearing room again, just as we did for the Assembly hearing back on March 14.  Many of you expressed disappointment that the effort we made in March did not solve our problems all by itself.  One hearing (or any single action really) doesn’t solve anything in Sacramento.  Politics is slow work.  So don’t be discouraged by that.

And, this is a very important hearing for you if you or your business has been harmed by the 2014 changes to the Massage Therapy Act.  If you have had to close your business, or have been unable to open one, come to the hearing and tell your story.  If local ordinance changes have imposed financial or bureaucratic hardships on your massage business, now is the time to tell legislators about it.

Yes, we recognize that traveling to Sacramento is difficult and inconvenient for many of you.  Well, there is good news and bad news on that front.

The good news: This hearing is most likely the last time we will get to address lawmakers in person in Sacramento.  You won’t be asked to make the trip again.  So please make the effort to come to the capital for the day.  Since the hearing begins at 1pm, even distant travel is a little easier this time.  Speak if you want to, but be there to be counted.  It is impossible to overstate how much this matters.

The bad news: This hearing is most likely the last time we will get to address lawmakers in person in Sacramento.  If we don’t make a clear statement here, we will not get another opportunity.  Clear your calendar.  Convince your colleagues to join you.  Make the trip.

Drop us a line at gr@AMTA-CA.org to let us know you will be attending the hearing.

If you would like to arrange ride sharing, here is some contact information for you:

From the northern part of California

Silicon Valley: Contact Bonni Kelley at 2ndVP@amta-ca.org
Redwood Empire: Contact Karen Russell at kcrussell@comcast.net
From anywhere else in the northern part of the state, please contact Patricia Rusert Gillette at northernrep@amta-ca.org

If you are coming from anywhere south of Monterey or Yosemite, please contact Michael Roberson at southernrep@amta-ca.org

Second: Keep an eye out for an email with an action link to send an email in support of AB 2194. .

This is something everyone can do in a couple of minutes, so take the time to do it.  Then forward the email to your colleagues and encourage them to do the same.

Third:  Supply us with the information we need to persuade lawmakers

Here is a link to a survey.  If you have been unable to open a massage business or had to close one you were operating, please click the link and tell us about it.  If you had to pay extraordinary fees or experienced long delays in getting or renewing your business license, take a few minutes to share your story.

These stories put a face on the issues we are dealing with and make it easier for legislators to understand the problems we are facing.

Yes, it’s a lot to do.  And there will be more stuff for you to do in the months ahead.  But this fight, for better or worse, will end in September.  And, win or lose, we have to live with the results for the next four years (give or take a year).  So take the time now to stand up for your profession.  In a few short weeks you can rest knowing you fought as hard as you could.

All right then, let’s get to it.  We’ll be in your inbox again in a couple of days.



Join the Fight!

If you would like to join in our advocacy efforts to improve the regulation of Massage in California, please visit our Alert Sign-Up Page.  Please note that the alert service is geographically sensitive: you will receive alerts for only those issues that will affect you (literally) where you live.


CA Legislative Update:  May 18, 2016

As of May 12, 2016, AB 2194 had its first reading in the Senate and was passed on to the Senate Business and Professions Committee.  We are hopeful that in this committee, we will get some support for curbing the punitive local ordinances that we have seen throughout California.  That does mean asking all of you back to Sacramento for another hearing.  More on that as we get closer.


CA Legislative Update:  March 16, 2016

The Sunset Hearing for The California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) and the Massage Therapy Act went quite well by all accounts.  We had over a hundred massage therapists in the hearing room.  This is an important signal to the committee members that our issues need their attention.

There was wide support for the continuation of certification and of the CAMTC.  We were also able to get our concerns about the damage that many cities have caused to our businesses with their returned land use authority on the record.

Here is a link for the video of, “Senate Joint Business, Professions and Economic Development and Assembly Business and Professions” on March 14, 2016:  http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=3448

The streaming is bad on a good day so, if you have the patience, click the download link under the viewer.  It is a VERY large file (eight hours of video), so it will take up to an hour to download.  But once the MP4 file is on your computer, it will run much better than the streaming service.

While the video is eight hours long, the Massage Therapy portion is the first three hours.  You have likely spent more time than that binge-watching on Netflix, so you should be able to get through this.

What’s next?  The committee staff will write the first draft of what will become the next version of the Massage Therapy Act.  We expect that draft in about five to six weeks, but that is just a guess.  We will supply you more details about the process in a few days.  In the meantime, pop some popcorn and spend a little time with the video.

And begin talking to your colleagues about what is going on with the Massage Therapy Act.  Use the resource documents we have posted on the site and forward the email alerts you already have.  We will need to let our lawmakers know that we care about what happens next.  The more of us that get involved, the better law we will get this year.


2016 Sunset Hearing Attendees
Just a few of the more than a hundred massage therapists that attended the March 14 Sunset Hearing





A (Very) Brief History of the Massage Therapy Act

A Brief History of AMTA-CA’s Legislative Efforts


Here are some links to useful information and websites:

Click here for the current version of AB 2194, the bill containing the latest proposed amendments to the Massage Therapy Act.

Click here for the current version of the Massage Therapy Act

Click here for the CAMTC Sunset Report.  Be advised:  This document is over 400 pages; it will take a while to load, let alone read.

To download application forms and get other information about CAMTC certification, you can go directly to the CAMTC website.  The California Massage Therapy Council is the nonprofit public benefit corporation that issues statewide certificates to qualified massage professionals in California.



If you have questions about AMTA-CA’s advocacy efforts or wish to help improve massage legislation in California, please contact  Tony Siacotos, your AMTA-CA Government Relations Chair at gr@amta-ca.org