Oklahoma massage therapists hope for licensing 

Thirty-seven states have some form of licensing for massage therapists. Oklahoma is not one of them. However, some local massage therapists hope to change that.

Scott Rayburn, member of the Oklahoma Massage Coalition, has helped work for two and a half years on a bill to be brought to the Oklahoma Senate to license masseuses. Oklahoma City and Tulsa both have city licensing regulations, but Rayburn said the process does not require any practice or education standards, and is merely an application with a fee attached.

"Right now, there is no focused law," Rayburn said. "There is a lot of sex work being done under the name of massage and it's not really enforced."

MORE THAN MASSAGES
Under the guise of a massage parlor, many prostitution rings have operated in Oklahoma City. Between 2005 and 2007, there were six prostitution arrests on these "parlors" and 28 citations in just Oklahoma City.

Lt. D. Kimberlin has worked in the vice squad for five of his 20-year police career. He said there has been a real decline in prostitution houses.

"We've been hitting them pretty hard in the last few years," he said. "They're all pretty much legal now. (But) it goes in cycles. When there were a lot of Oriental parlors opening here, some of them were nothing more than a brothel."

But without a statewide license with educational and standard guidelines, it is hard to clarify who is operating a legitimate business, Rayburn said. "Lisa Spinelli

Senate Bill 1035: The Massage Therapy Practice Act:
" First introduced two years ago.
" Outlines licensing requirements.
" Includes grandfathering clauses to allow those who have been practicing to continue until they can gain national certification.
" Licensing would fall under the state board of health, which could renew or not renew licenses as it sees fit.
" Entered into the state Senate schedule too late this year to be considered.

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Lisa Spinelli

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