Victory in Colorado and Oklahoma!
Thursday, June 23, 2016
by: Andrea Wiener, Policy Administrator

Section: Keeping it Legal




Your Guild colleagues and staff have been very active this spring, protecting your right to practice. A bill in Colorado would have removed our exemptions from the requirements of the massage therapy practice act, and a bill in Oklahoma would have created massage therapy licensing requirements that did not include exemptions for us. By engaging members in these two states, and by collaborating with our allies, we were successful in keeping our exemption in Colorado, and getting our exemption included in Oklahoma!
 
We all owe huge appreciation to all the members in Colorado and Oklahoma who wrote letters, called their legislators, attended stakeholder meetings, and testified in hearings. I want to especially thank Al Wadleigh and Molly Gibb, who took the lead on the local front in Colorado and Oklahoma!
 
This was Al’s first experience with the Colorado legislative process. He jumped right in with both feet, driving to Denver to testify the day after a blizzard. Al testified before both House and Senate committees. Al worked closely with me to plan our strategy, and was impeccable in keeping Colorado members informed and engaged. The legislative process is a political one, and Al developed relationships with legislators, committee chairs, agency staff and other stakeholders, that contributed to our success.
 
Molly is highly experienced in the legislative process generally, and in Oklahoma. She’s very at home in the Capitol, knows the players very well, and knows the right approach to take with each legislator. Molly not only advocated for our interests, but also kept an eye out for the interests of our colleagues in other organizations, who were not able to have representatives present.
 
Although we all know that the Feldenkrais Method is not massage therapy, in most of the states that regulate massage therapy, massage is defined so broadly that the definition could be misinterpreted to include practices that are not massage. Since the 1990s, we have actively advocated for including exemptions for practices such as ours, in massage therapy licensing requirements. For many years, these activities were led by Michael Purcell. Thanks in great part to efforts by Michael, the many volunteers who worked with him and our partners in the Federation of Therapeutic Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practice Organizations (Federation MBS), we’ve been successful in securing exemptions or exclusions in 27 states.
 
Our work doesn’t end when an exemption is in place. We work throughout the year to monitor legislative activity, and respond in support or opposition to bills that could affect our members. We participate in monthly meetings of the Joint Governmental Relations Committee (JGRC) of the Federation MBS, where we share information and plan strategy.
 
Many members responded to our call to action in 2014, to express opposition to the Model Practice Act that was being developed by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). Despite our best efforts, the FSMTB adopted a Model Practice Act (MPA) that does not include exemptions for us. The MPA carries absolutely no regulatory authority, and it is possible that it will sit on a shelf and not be used, as sometimes happens with these things. But we’re not taking that chance. Through the Federation MBS we have taken a two-pronged approach: We have established communication with the FSMTB in hopes of improving communication and understanding between our organizations. We are also developing an educational packet for massage therapy boards and others, with information about our organizations and the importance of including exemptions for our practices in massage therapy licensure laws.

In order to keep this work going, we need you! Volunteers at the state level have been essential to getting the exemptions passed, and keeping them in place. We need volunteers now to become familiar with the regulatory environment in each state, and to monitor activities. By keeping our ear to the ground, we can often learn about a bill before it is filed, and have a chance to influence the initial language. You don’t need to have any experience. The legislative process is accessible to all citizens, and it can be fascinating to observe and participate. If you have an interest in becoming involved, please contact me.
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Comments (2)
ellen sevy
6/24/2016 6:16:32 PM
thank you so much to all who continue to protect us so we don't have to get a massage license. I only hope that more people who are not FGNA members will hear about this and become members when they hear how much work went into this past/ present and future.


Jeff Haller
6/24/2016 1:43:41 PM
This is huge for us. Thank you for your efforts. We will continue to strengthen our stance with Guild acceptance of the Feldenkrais Practitioner Profile, the competences of a beginning practitioner that further delineates our practice from massage, and when we separate graduation from certification to insure a higher professional competence in our membership.


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