1975 was the year that the state legislature made it official that massage therapists were licensed. The 1975 Legislative Report (PDF) tells it all.
By Representative Warnke
REHB 774 PARTIAL VETO ISSUE: Massage therapists ANALYSIS AS ENACTED The massage business in this State has been troubled insofar as appropriate licensing laws do not exist in all areas. This causes the public health and welfare to be jeopardized by the operations of unqualified massage operators.
SUMMARY: REHB 774 provides for State licensing of massage operators and massage businesses. The licensure laws are intended to supplement and not to supercede existing local laws where they now exist.
HOUSE: 86 SENATE: 35 HOUSE FREE CONFERENCE REPORT ADOPTED: 80 SENATE FREE CONFERENCE REPORT ADOPTED: 44 VETO SUMMARY: 5 9 (a) 3 0 Effective: September 8, 1975 C 280 L 75 1st ex. sess. PV Strikes Section 8 which would have allowed persons engaged in the massage business for less than one year prior to the effective date of the act a 6-month grace period to qualify for license. It further provided that residents of this State who have practiced massage for one year or more prior to the effective date of the act would have been exempt from the examination requirements, provided that proper application was completed and certain moral requirements were met.
Gov. Dan Evans did not like the grandfathering clause and vetoed that section. Here is his letter:
To the Honorable, the House of Representatives of the State of Washington Ladies and Gentlemen: Of-t–lCL C.H Jt,L ,UVC.RNOR OLYMPIA July 2, 1975
1 am returning herewith without ay approval as to one section House Bill No. 774 entitled: “AN ACT Relating to the operation of massage busines.ses.” This bill provides for the regulation and licensing, at the state level,of massage businesses and operators. Section 8 contains a “grandfather clause” allowing any person engaged in the massage business for one year or more to qualify for the massage operator’s license without taking the examination prescribed elsewhere in the bill. I have long stated my objection to grandfather clauses in business licensing acts for the reason that I do not believe it is either in the best interest of the public or the particular business involved to license all persons previously engaged in a business for a set period of time regardless of the competency of such person. In addition, I cannot ignore the reports by law enforcement agencies detailing the proliferation in certain areas of our state of purported massage parlors which actually engage in a number of illicit and criminal activities. Approval of the grandfather clause in this bill would effectively grant licenses to persons engaged in such activities at those establishments. With the exception of section 8 which I have vetoed for the reasons stated, the remainder of House Bill No. 774 is approved
So it began… or was it the beginning?
It was not the beginning of massage therapists working to make massage therapy a profession.
As early as 1953 (and maybe earlier but I haven’t found evidence of this yet) massage therapists were getting together to begin the process of creating a profession. Oct 1953 is the first edition that I have of the newsletters of the WA Chapter of the American Association of Masseurs and Masseuses (Now American Massage Therapy Association – Washington.)
The Editorial from then President Mr. Arthur Mann states:
Members of AAMM, do you know we of the Massage Profession are just about two thousand and three hundred years behind in the matter of organizing and developing our profession? Massage and Medicine were both used and recommended by Hippocrates….
Now it is high time for us to develop our organization to pool our knowledge and otherwise work for the betterment of our profession.
There is a great need for our skills that point is well recognized by the public and also the Medical People….
More and more we hear rumors of discontent with the practice of massage and valid threats of legislating us out of the field. Now it is up to us shall we act or shall we be eliminated. This article is written to make you think about our problems and to encourage you to become active in the doings of our Assn.
Seems the message is the same… the associations looking for people to get involved.
The same applies today. The AMTA-WA Chapter is looking for new candidates to run for board members and to my knowledge as of today, no one has applied to run for any position. See the call for candidates. Do you have the time to volunteer and run for office?
They are also looking for people to give chair massage to our legislators in Olympia. Massage Awareness Day (MAD) is your chance to talk to the AMTA-WA Lobbyist and your legislators about massage therapy and some of the issues we have with insurance carriers, the board of massage and whatever else you may have in mind.