Critique of Illinois House Bill 2211,

an Act to Regulate and license

Massage and Bodywork in Illinois


New Act
5ILCS 80/4.20 new
Illinois Massage Licensing Act.

We at International Thai Therapists Association, Inc. An Illinois Educational Corporation composed of active Members and Massage professionals, cannot state strongly enough that we feel this Act is Bad Prima Facae and should be struck from the record. It is unfair and favors a specific special interest group. It is biased on the surface and would only provide for confusion and problems for the community it reportedly protects. It controls where there is no demonstrated public need and unfairly taxes a part of the professional community which actually could use a little help financially.

This Act covers areas of Legislation which are already adequately protected and for which there is no demonstrated need to have additional legislation.

This Act does not represent the massage and bodywork community. nor foes it represent a consensus in the professional Massage and Bodywork Community in Illinois or the Nation at large. Many of the statements made as fact in this Act are based on mistaken and misleading suppositions. For example, the sole topic of National Certification is not settled and hotly debated as we speak.

To Protect the Public? From What?

There is no need to protect the public as there has and is no demonstrated abuse which a law such as this could or might remedy.

There is already currently in statute many laws governing that which this bill administers. For example, Many Massage Therapists in ILLINOIS live and work in City of Chicago. The City of Chicago license law is as or more stringent than this particular bill. There is simply no reason to have "Double licensing'. Most Illinois cities and community already have similar laws as well.

Additionally the State of Illinois, Regulatory Act (5 ILCS 80/1), clearly states that there must be a proven necessity for regulation of a whole industry. The standard is tough but fair! Read from it below"
Sec. 1. This Act shall be known and may be cited as the Regulatory
Sunset Act.
(Source: P.A. 90-580, eff. 5-21-98.)

(5 ILCS 80/2)
Sec. 2. Findings and intent.
(a) The General Assembly finds that State government actions have produced a substantial increase in numbers of agencies, growth of programs and proliferation of rules and regulations and that the whole process developed without sufficient legislative oversight, regulatory accountability or a system of checks and balances. The General Assembly further finds that by establishing a system for the termination or continuation of such agencies and programs, it will be in a better position to evaluate the need for the continued existence of present and future regulatory bodies. (b) It is the intent of the General Assembly: (1) That no profession, occupation, business, industry or trade shall be subject to the State's regulatory power unless the exercise of such power is necessary to protect the public health, safety or welfare from significant and discernible harm or damage. The exercise of the State's police power shall be done only to the extent necessary for that purpose. (2) That the State shall not regulate a profession, occupation, industry, business or trade in a manner which will unreasonably and adversely affect the competitive market.

Only 18 and Over Need Apply:

There is no legitimate reason to limit the practice to persons 18 and over as many high school graduates would be capable of completing the requirements with a parents consent.

500 Hour Minimum?

This requirement discriminates against traditional oriental modalities who prefer the personal apprenticeship model of instruction. This is where a student mentors and practices under the supervision of an expert instructor in private or semi-private settings. Oriental practitioners have just a such a right to learn and practice as their western counterparts.

500 hours is arbitrary and in fact competency may be acquired in much less time some states have adopted as little as 150 hours.

Use the so called "National Certification Exam as the Standard?

The so called "National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork" is a private testing authority originally standing as the entrance exam for one specific Massage association the AMTA. The test although in its current form , now separate from AMTA is still biased toward their particular organization standard. This standard is not uniform, is not fairly applied nor accepted by the industry it purports to represent and is exclusive toward a specific school or style of massage practice. It does not represent many forms and styles and schools of massage at all and by many is not considered a national standard at all. Just because its name includes the word "National" does not mean it is.

Most individual recognized styles are fully competent in judging the competency of their particular practitioners. This biased, private exam absolutely should not be accepted as a standard.

Additionally, neither should the National Commission for Certifying
Agencies be the standard as well as this organization represents no competency standards for Massage and Bodywork.

Furthermore this examination is not COMPETENCY Based. It is strictly written and only measures memory and retention as well as test taking ability. Competency in Massage and Bodywork is a "Hands on " phenomenon. There are many competent therapists and individuals with "Test taking Anxiety" who are thoroughly professional and well educated who do not do well on lengthy written exams. These persons would automatically be disenfranchised.

The above test discriminates against persons of color and non caucaison heritage. The lengthy written exam presuppose an extraordinary competency in English Language which many non-native and first or second generation Americans do not share. For example, Illinois has a huge Latin community, many of these native Spanish speaking persons would have great difficulty in passing this kind of exam, not because of a lack of knowledge , but from a lack of unnecessary and specific English.

Better is to accept the established standards already in place for some time by the individual modalities being represented.

Specific modalities included in this exemption

may be Zen Therapy, Rolfing, Alexander Technique, Reiki,
Polarity, Feldenkrais, Trager, Shiatsu, Jin Shin Jyutsu, or
Therapeutic Touch.

Who made up this list?

If this standard is accepted then Thai Massage, SomaVeda™ Massage, Nuad Boran and Traditional Thai Medical Massage must be included.

Additional exemptions must also be provided for religious bodies and doctrines which hold massage and "Hands on healing" as a respected and traditional part of their religious expression. For example, Native American practices of religion are specifically protected by Federal Law.

There are many energetic and traditional Modalities not represented here Thai Massage, Okuzaki Restorative Method, Mari-El Healing, Touch for Health, Breema, Cranial Sacral etc. What happens if your modality is not on the list? What about here to for new modalities which come into vogue next year? Five years from now. This law requires that we decide exactly the style of work we will have to do in the future. It makes provisions to have arbitrarily labeled as criminal endeavors punishable by full force of law those practices specifically endorsed. As a community, there is no general consensus on even the definition of what is massage and bodywork. We should settle definitions before making them law with criminal penalties.


Violates provisions of Separation of Church and State under federal statute.

You cannot legally restrict the practice of spiritual healing to "Prayers alone" The practice of spiritualism and spiritual healing per se' is constitutionally protected under separation of church and state.


Mysterious "Director" has too much Power.

Who is this powerful "Director" who shall have the power to establish the Board. What are the qualifications of the "Director" to represent the industry in this manner.


Can not reasonably reflect the interest of various Massage organizations.


There are as many as 75 different Massage and Bodywork organizations representing practitioners of various disciplines in the State of Illinois. With only seven seats available exactly what are the provisions which will allow a "reasonable reflection" of their positions and interests? Simply to say that this will happen does not make it so.

Board Members are not Liable for Negligence.

Members of the board should be liable to the public trust as anyone else. In the event of misrepresentation, fraud, or other breach of the public trust relating to their duties especially.

If the general massage practitioners are to be held criminally liable for their supposed misdeeds under this Act, then the Board Members who subject them to it should be held accountable to a standard as high or higher.

The "Director" Can Override Decisions of the Board without Accountability.

This act allows the "Director" to over ride decisions of the Board based on Opinions and Feeling! No one person should have the power or authority to override a board decision relating to a whole profession. No Director should be able to eliminate or reconstitute a board simply on personal opinion. What is to keep this powerful person accountable to the public they are supposedly representing? Where are the checks and balances to this potential for abuse of power? As stated, once a Director was chosen and a Board set. the Director could hypothetically fire the whole board and chose a new one to suit their policy.


Massage Premises and Businesses will lose the right to train their own Staff.

Professional Massage establishments, should retain the right to train professionally there own staff. Such staff in training should be able to have fair compensation for there work.


Attempts to Regulate Prostitution.

The Act refers to sex acts for money, and by law this is defined as Prostitution and refers to an acts of prostitution, and as deplorable as such is, there are many adequate laws in every jurisdiction of Illinois that make the above referenced practice illegal. There is simply no basis for another anti-prostitution ordinance here in this bill. It is beyond the scope and jurisdiction of this type of bill to control prostitution.


In your own practice you can no longer delegate work to Students, Apprentices and or employees.

Massage therapy although sophisticated is not "Rocket Science", it is an long time accepted practice to apprentice and train students and underlings in a specific sites method or style. There has never been documented any harm to the public from this practice. It is in fact quite possible to do a wonderful massage with as little as twenty hours of training. An example of this would be "On-site chair Massage" a fast growing specialty that can be taught safely in a few hours and virtually mastered in days.

How can Employees practice? or Apprentices gain practice hours if specifically prohibited from doing so?


The Massage Board will Judge Handicaps and Disabilities.

This Board is not competent to judge in matters of disability. There are many individuals who may incur disability and yet remain viable to practice effectively. This paragraph essentially prejudices the disable out of the massage business.


The Massage Board will be Responsible for Collecting Income Taxes.

Why is a massage bill responsible for collecting income tax? There are already adequate provisions for this on the books. This is redundant and unnecessary.


The State Law will "Override" Valid Existing Legislation

An infringement on local right or "Home Rule" this bill is not in the public interest and usurps the established policies of local authorities already tending well to the matters referenced. For Example, City of Chicago's laws are more pervasive and supervisory than the ones being expressed here. To adopt this bill would be to adopt a lower standard than the one currently in force.


Renewing Licenses will have to red-examine.

Renewing looks like it will potentially be a tedious process. It is stated that it may well be arbitrary as to whether you may automatically renew without being subject to the whims of the Board. A further examination can be required. What examination? Whose examination? It simply doesn't say!


The License Fees will be Expensive.

$100.00 is exorbitant. A fee of $10.00 or fifteen dollars would be fair. A $100.00 fee combined with local fees would make the license prohibitive on cost alone in some jurisdictions. The combined cost for example of a City of Chicago Massage Premises permit $125.00, a massage therapist license $125.00 and this additional State license fee would be one of the highest aggregates in the country if not the highest.

Why not keep the cost low and reasonable for part time and low income providers. What about Massage Therapist who work as volunteers?


The "Director" is a "God" Like Figure in this Act.

There is for example specific mention of the Director "Not being Satisfied" and "In their opinion" Determining this force , scope or subjectivity of this Law. No person such as a "Director" should of their sole opinion be able to ignore or impeach the findings or the peoples due representation. This single person absolutely should not have this power. What is to prevent or preclude personal vendetta? or Bias? on the part of this God like figure?

Violate this Bad Bill and You are a Criminal.

First offense: Class A misdemeanor
Second Offense: Class 4 felony

Not to mention FINES:
They can run into Thousands!

Are there not already enough criminal statutes on the books that languish for lack of attention and enforcement that we have to create a whole new category of potential offenders. Will jail space be made available from violent offenders to make a place for errant massage persons who somehow run a foul of this ridiculous Act? Think on it. Violent criminal or improperly registered Massage person...who would you rather pay taxes to have in Jail?

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This page last updated 04/13/2002