Thousands of massage therapists in Los Angeles and across the state are rushing to get a certification that will make it easier for them to practice in multiple cities.

The certification process was set up two years ago with the passage of SB 731 by state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach. This bill, sponsored by the California chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association, created a non-profit organization to establish voluntary standardized certification for the estimated 25,000 practicing massage therapists in the state.

Prior to the legislation, each city was responsible for licensing massage therapists; most required the therapists to go through the cumbersome process of getting a police permit. Massage therapists need police permits in many cites in order to help law enforcement tell the difference between legitimate providers and sex services.

Supporters of SB 731 said this system led to confusion among massage therapists. They wanted a voluntary system under which they could get a single certification that would be accepted in every city.

In introducing the legislation, Oropeza pointed to another problem: the proliferation of massage certifications from different organizations. Several trade associations issue their own certifications as do hundreds of vocational training programs. As a result, the value of certification wasn’t obvious to massage customers. A single certification issued in accordance with state law would give provide better assurance for consumers, Oropeza said.

Since the non-profit California Massage Therapy Council formed in September, it has received more than 18,400 applications from massage therapists seeking certification. The council has approved about 11,500, with the remainder pending.

Ahmos Netanel, the council’s chief executive, said state certification is especially important for L.A. massage therapists because of the number of cities in the area.

“Just to drive along Santa Monica Boulevard to your various clients, you would need to get individual permits from Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood,” Netanel said. “That’s a lot of permits to get and then constantly have to renew.”

‘Job-Killer’ Killed

Business groups have stopped a “job killer” bill that would have significantly toughened penalties on employers for environmental and safety violations. The bill, AB 846 by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, would have increased penalties for many violations and indexed some penalty amounts to inflation. It would have applied to penalties levied by four state agencies: the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Department of Industrial Relations and the Water Resources Control Board.

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