Government Relation Updates
(Posted December 15, 2018)
As time goes on, I find that my role of Government Relations Chair gets harder. I thought that once the 'Massage Therapy Practice Act' was signed into law it would get easier. It hasn't, I can't let my guard down, if I do there are things that slip by that can potentially harm consumers of massage and massage therapists. The one constant is that there aren't enough massage therapists coming forward to be heard by those that are governing us. There are about 8 individual massage therapists who are engaging with the Advisory Board on Massage Therapy (ABMT) when the board calls for volunteers to sit on the committees to address the rules and the law. The majority of these therapists are from the Tulsa area.
I find this lack of involvement problematic because it lets the governing board think that we have no opinion and that we are fine with whatever they decide. I know this isn't true since I monitor the massage pages on Facebook, that I belong to, and see therapists' comment on their confusion or anger over something they don't like. I find many of us who have been keeping up with the enactment of the law answering the same questions over and over again, many have quit responding. I assume that they are tired of doing so. Our profession needs everyone staying informed, doing their own research and engaging by bringing thoughtful solutions along with their concerns.
At the ABMT meeting on November 1, 2018 the newest board member was introduced. Our very own Kelli Lene Yearwood, volunteer extraordinaire, was introduced as the appointee to replace Theresa Schroeder who resigned. I attempted to get her up to date as much as possible so she knew how to engage with the process. She is a much better person than I am., diplomacy isn't my strong suit, especially if I have to play along to get along. Kelli Lene dealt charmingly with the reality that the suggested changes to the law by the Legislative Committee to the ABMT were ignored and it was rewritten according to???
I have learned by sitting on the Legislative Committee, now for the third time, that without more massage therapists they don't take the opinions of those who are engaging, seriously. The first year I was chided for wanting to look at the language of the bill and told by one ABMT board member that we weren't going to look at that. I was confused since I was sitting on the Legislative committee, when we met, they realized I knew what we were to be discussing. This time all four committees looked at the rewrite of the law. Why, I don't understand! The other three committees should have been looking at the rules only, leaving the bill rewrite to the legislative committee.
On the language I can't give any new information, other than the recommendations of the committee were completely ignored.
Concerning Section 4200.4 C. (Advisory Board seats) The ABMT recommended to the OSBCB that it remain at 5 changing the Citizen to Establishment Licensee.The committee recommendation was to raise it to 7 by adding another massage therapist and a Massage Therapy Establishment or Salon/Spa Establishment that had at least one full-time massage therapist on staff, full-time defined as 15-30 hours a week, while keeping the rest of the seats the same, changing the accredited school to approved school for the administrator seat and defining Citizen as a public/layperson. At the OSBCB meeting on November 5, 2018 Ken Young along with Bill Helton decided that the committee recommendation be taken. The one thing that concerns me is that the establishment licensee wasn't further defined. I see this as an effort to keep a cosmetologist in this seat.
Concerning Section 4200.5 A. (Grandfather Clause) They approved it to be opened from the effective date of the new bill's enactment until August 1, 2020. The OSBCB has documented about 3000 individuals who haven't licensed who needed to grandfather. They quit documenting at 3000. On November 1, 2018 there was an individual who identified herself as a regulation advocate for her 24-25 years of practice who failed to grandfather. How can someone claim to be a regulation advocate and not realize that a law was passed statewide to regulate us? This individual claimed to be one of about 5000 who needed to grandfather and missed the opportunity. At the first Legislative Committee meeting on September 20, 2018 Laura Bryce said that they had licensed 2565 massage therapists. As of the grandfather deadline May 1, 2017 about 2100 therapists licensed, in March 2018 I asked for an updated number to include on the LLEAD Grant there were 2250.
Concerning Section 4200.10 B. (Municipalities etc.) we want the establishment license to supersede city, county or political subdivision. The original bill did this for the individual massage therapist, but had an exemption for other health care professions. The committee advised that (B.) be eliminated since this is what gave the OKC Detective a foot in the door to dictate our hours of operation when he approached Senator Bergstrom. Since Senator Bergstrom has already been tapped by OSBCB to sponsor the rewrite, it will likely be an issue once again. The individual who was a big push in the cosmetology world to fight this, is now an Inspector and will have their hands tied, they won't be able to rally the ranks to fight it. I work odd hours and don't want to have to tell my well-established clients that I can't see them outside of the hours dictated in law. Cosmetology is the number one portal for human trafficking and they have no hour restrictions on them, those who straddle both worlds would have to keep their massage practice to the hours dictated in the law or violate it and chance getting caught. We can't leave it to the cosmetologists fight this battle for us.
At the OSBCB meeting on November 5, 2018 Laura Grisso gave all the recommendations from the ABMT meeting. I have already noted the change of the advisory board seats. An additional thing that was brought up to ABMT members after the ABMT voted on the language changes was brought to the OSBCB's attention. In the establishment licensing the recommendation was to exempt the Salon/Spa owners from having to get a Massage Establishment license, since they are already licensed. Someone pointed out that if they don't license as a massage therapy establishment as well, the OSBCB Inspectors wouldn't be able to inspect the massage therapy rooms. It isn't covered under the law if they are exempted. Ken Young and Bill Helton spoke up again and said we have to license the Salon/Spa if they provide massage therapy services. They suggested that the fee be waived in the rules, but they will need to display a Massage Therapy Establishment license along with their Cosmetology Establishment license.
I was hot under the collar after the ABMT and wasn't able to get it under control by Sunday November 4, 2018 for the chapter meet and greet. I owe those individuals who showed support of the chapter board and other volunteers an apology. I should have kept my anger and frustration in check, when I was asked to introduce myself.
Tonya and myself have had a meeting with Luke Martin and Pat Hall, our lobbyists, now that we have updated the contract with Majority Plus LLC. The Government Relations staff at national had huge concerns over the establishment licensing, the ABMT make up and the grandfather clause being opened as I submitted my reports to the board, lobbyists and national GR staff. They helped us to get additional funding to bring the lobbyists on board sooner. Luke Martin was at the Advisory Board meeting so that he can stay on top of the OSBCB's efforts and help us navigate our support and our needs to keep it a massage therapy bill and not a cosmetology bill. I will do my best to keep everyone informed, but will be limited by the OSBCB keeping their cards held close to the chest. The lobbyists have what we have expressed as concerns and will work in our best interests based on the information, we have given them along with National's interests. The lobbyists will need us to trust them and may not fully share their plan of action and/or ask us not to widely share the information.
The best way to help is, to make sure that you are staying informed on any and all bills that come up in the new session starting January 1, 2019. You need to go directly to the official state website, do your own independent searches and make your own assessment of the bills' language. The lobbyists have identified many bills in past sessions that could affect our industry. Bills seeking to deregulate one or all professional licensing are a concern for us all. Please go to the link provided below and use future bill numbers I provide or use key terms like, massage therapy, professional licensing or state agencies. I'll do my best to provide needed information, I can't do all the needed research alone and need all the help I can get. Read our newsletters and my GR Updates that I will send out separate as information is updated. If we call to action respond by calling/emailing your personal legislator, don't allow their assistant to say you need to speak to the author. The author already knows their stance and doesn't care about yours if you aren't a constituent of the theirs. Our Legislators need to hear from us to know what we expect of them concerning our communities, professions and our state. Make a difference get involved, there is a link to find my legislator in the menu bar of the newsletter, use your home and business addresses to see who represents you.
Thank you, Mary Elizabeth Le BlancAMTA-OK Government Relations Chair405email@example.com
Save The Date February 18, 2019
'A Day at the Capitol'
(Posted September 25, 2018)
Luke Martin, one of our lobbyists, has made arrangements for us to attempt another 'Chair Massage' event at the Capitol. He has gotten approval for us to be on the Fourth Floor Rotunda on February 18, 2019 from the hours of 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM. We will be allowed to have 10 massage chairs set up as well as two information tables. We are aware that the 18th of February is President's Day in 2019 and Luke assures us that the Legislators will be present and in session.
Like last year we will need at least 10 volunteers to help with this event. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to join us, so share with those therapists you network with. They don't need to be an AMTA member. It would be great to have at least 30 licensed massage therapists present to make sure we keep a steady flow for the Legislators and their staff to be able to get a 10 minute massage. Allowing massage therapists an opportunity to engage with the Legislators to express gratitude for seeing the value of regulating massage and the importance of keeping it that way. We have decided to move the dialogue from Human Trafficking to the health issues surrounding opioid use legally and illegally.
We all know how Oklahoma weather can be, so please know that we don't expect anyone to put themselves in harms way. If snow or ice storms hit, the Capitol will be closed, we will do our best to get the word out but we know some may not get the notice. So I am addressing it now so no one needs to feel guilty about backing out due to inclement weather. We understand!
The Chapter Board is working on having appropriate polo shirts designed for AMTA-OK chapter members to wear. These will be available to members only, if they want. Otherwise we ask that everyone dress professionally for the event. This means: dress slacks paired with a dress or polo shirt; or scrubs. You can pair scrub bottoms with a dress or polo shirt or a scrub top with dress slacks as well. We want you to be comfortable while maintaining a sense of professionalism. We want to be easily identified as professional massage therapists.
Contact Mary Elizabeth Le Blanc 405.924.2114 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer or have any questions. Thank you!
Advisory Board on Massage Therapy
I would like to encourage our member and massage community to think about stepping out of their comfort zones and seriously consider applying for a Gubernatorial Appointment (appointments made by the Governor). The Advisory Board on Massage Therapy (ABMT) are individuals that made this choice and they are halfway through their terms. While there is something to be said for allowing for continuity, we also want to avoid stagnation. We want to make sure that those in these seats making up the ABMT continue to understand the needs of massage therapy's clientele and not try to governor on the understanding of what the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering (OSBCB) sees as their duty to their agency, clientele and profession.
We need passionate individuals who understand that our efforts to regulate massage therapy are about public and community safety that will allow for the uplifting of massage therapy. We can protect our clients and communities while making sure the massage therapist's needs don't get lost in the shuffle.
The statute calls for a five member Advisory Board on Massage Therapy. The members of this board are to be made up of an Administrator from an accredited school that has a massage therapy program, three licensed massage therapists who have practiced in Oklahoma no less than three years, and a citizen. They are all appointed by the Governor and serve for a four year term.
The basic requirements of those who serve on this board are to attend board meetings. There are 6 regular meetings a year with the potential of 1, 2 or 3 special meetings being called to deal with tabled issues that can't wait for the next regular meeting. By late summer they call for committee volunteers made up of interested massage therapists to help with rewriting of the rules and, until OSBCB gets the language clarifications and other asks, the rewrite of the original bill. The rewrite of a statute is always a possibility if things change enough to warrant the need for it. There are four committees that meet twice during September and October. These committees are made up of two Advisory Board members, four OSBCB staff members, four volunteer massage therapists and Assistant Attorney General Grant Moak. This works in theory but issues come up and it is usually the massage therapists who don't show up for the meetings. Leaving the massage therapy community under represented.
To apply for an appointment please click on link provided below. Thank you!
ABMT Committee Report
I would like to be able to report on all the committees but I don't have time or inclination to be sitting on all four. The Legislative Committee had it's first meeting on 9/20/18 at 3:00 PM. We were tasked with discussing our options on how to work with the final draft of SB 1063 that died in session. I wish I was talented enough to put a link to a copy of the final draft. I have included a link to Bill Tracking Reports below. Search for SB 1063 it will bring up the history of SB 1063. You will need to click on Engrossed to bring up a copy of the final draft.
Here are the bullet points on our discussions.
Pages 8-9 Section 4200.4(C) Criminal History: Grant Moak, Assistant Attorney General, recommends separating out into different sections denial of license and discipline of licensee. We also looked at the criminal history criteria for establishment licenses located in Section 4200.5 1(D)(pages 14-15). The language in 4200.4 and 4200.5.1 should be consistent. In our discussion Grant Moak focused on lines 9-10 on page 9 specifically the time line of ten-year period. We concluded that the language in this section was awkward. Laura Embleton with abmp offered to provide Grant alternative language for criminal history in Section 4200.4(C), to be reviewed at our next meeting.
Page 9 Section 4200.4(D) Advisory Board: Grant Moak states some have proposed replacing the pubic member with an establishment licensee. Licensing Boards that make final decisions typically have a public member but advisory boards usually don't. Laura Embleton and myself were the only ones who continued to support that the Citizen seat remain as public. Laura Grisso, ABMT Chair, wanted clarification on why the AMTA put this in the original bill SB 687. I am not able to answer this so I am waiting for a statement from Government Relations Department at National. I see this as a issue since OSBCB doesn't have massage establishment licensing so the only licensed establishments would be cosmetology establishments. I explained to Grant Moak that I went back to the changes that Lyle Kelsey with the Medical Board suggested to the bill in 2015, he had 2 or 3 public members sitting on an advisory committee that was appointed by the Medical Board. When I researched all the advisory committees under the Medical Board they have 1, 2, or 3 public members on the committees. It depends on how large the committee is
Page 10 Section 4200.5. A. Grandfather Clause: We know that Legislators are getting calls and emails on this subject from their constituents so we are looking to open it up. An emergency clause would need to be initiated by the Legislature which would be a long shot. If a rewrite of the bill passes it will be September before it gets implemented. Some wanted a 2 year extension from date of implantation and some wanted just a 1 year, we compromised on 18 months. There is also discussion on an alternative route to licensure. Requests are being made by those who advocate for apprenticeships.
Page 21-22 Section 4200.10(C) regarding municipalities: In SB 687 we had no intention of doing away with a municipality to continue with licensing they had for other health professionals. This gave some Law Enforcement Agencies the opportunity to approach the sponsors of SB 1063 to rewrite this section to allow for restrictions on our hours of operation. This is one instance in which the cosmetologist sided with us. If they limit massage therapy hours they will have to limit cosmetology hours. We all were in agreement that this section needs to be eliminated. The Professional Conduct Committee that met before the Legislative Committee supports this action as well.
OSBCB and some of the Metro Law Enforcement Agencies are still focused on Human Trafficking being a massage therapy issue. It is not, it is a law enforcement issue period. If we give support to establishment licensing we are putting restrictions on our industry. The number one portal for Human Trafficking is the cosmetology world. Ms. Lewelling has shared this statement at the meetings since March 2018. There are maybe 12 states that have establishment licensing and AMTA doesn't support the efforts to license massage establishments. We are seeking to move the dialogue away from Human Trafficking and move it to the opioid epidemic that is plaguing our country. We are all touched by someone, directly or indirectly, who has been affected by the misuse of opioids. Please help your chapter and your profession by being proactive and staying as informed as you possibly can. Start by creating a dialogue with your fellow massage therapists that are meaningful and productive. If you have concerns come forward and express them with respect and solutions to solve them. Thank you!