Hello from your friendly Government Relations Chair!
Even as COVID-19 was still being addressed, the state legislature was meeting and both myself and our lobbyist were kept active in responding to member questions/concerns and addressing bills that impact the massage industry. In summary:
HB6657: An Act Concerning Human Trafficking. This is a Bill that we have been tracking and watching. This impacted the TIP Council for the state and we did push for a Licensed Massage Therapist to be appointed to this council, as they are often recommending changes to the massage industry and we then have to work with that on the back-end. This way, our profession has a space at the table. We did speak in support of this change. This measure PASSED and a LMT will be appointed to the TIP Council! Awaiting signature from Governor Lamont at the moment. You can access the information here: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB06657&which_year=2021
HB6666: An Act Concerning DPH revisions. This bill, and the piece impacting LMTs, has been on hold since early 2020 when COVID-19 shutdown all non-essential legislation. This PASSED and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. How does this impact massage? This was a correction to the esthetician/nail tech licensure bill that requires the management of businesses employing these professions to be from these fields. Our members reached out with the concern that, as an LMT and business owner employing estheticians and nail techs, they would no longer be in legal compliance unless they hired someone else to manage their businesses. This was an error/oversight and has been rectified and we did speak to this change. You can access the information here: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB6666&which_year=2021
Honestly, one of my biggest fears was that the budget (a two-year proposal in Connecticut, not annually) would re-visit the taxation of massage therapy. I was THRILLED that this was not an option and we did not need to fight against being treated as a personal service in terms of taxation.
Now that Connecticut is ‘Open’ each business owner may decide what to enforce within the space of their office. Generally, healthcare is still expected to have face masks for staff, but personal services allow the face mask to be removed if the individual is vaccinated. If you want to see the guidelines, please use this link: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Reopen-CT
Finally, the main question that keeps coming through is regarding the continuing education and if there is any lessening of the requirements for renewal. As per the latest guidance from the DPH, LMTs are required, in Connecticut, to obtain 24 hours of CEs every 4 years. The ‘freeze’ ends on 20 July 2021, from the most updated guidelines. This means, if you were scheduled to renew during the COVID-19 response and shutdowns, you had a suspension period until the Executive Orders are lifted. From then, you have 6 months to fulfill your renewal with CEs, fees, etc. Your renewal is every 2 years. The Massage Therapy Statute, Chapter 384a, states that 6 CEs may be internet/distance learning based and no more than 12 CEs may come from non-NCBTMB approved providers. You may access the statutes here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Departments-and-Agencies/DPH/dph/practitioner_licensing_and_investigations/plis/massagetherapist/MSGStatutepdf.pdf?la=en.
While there is a summer break for the legislature, I shall still be working hard to ensure that we are well-positioned to have an excellent Massage Therapy Awareness Day in the Spring 2022 and have strong connections with elected officials who support us as healthcare professionals.
Finally, if anyone is interested in helping out with ‘GR-stuff’ such as presenting written or in-person testimony, contacting legislators, answering member questions, and networking with members when we need to garner support from specific legislators, please do reach out to me at: GovRelAmtaCT@gmail.com.
Nikki Arel, AMTA-CT Chapter Government Relations Chair