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(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday April 4, 2013—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the Touch Therapy Bill that would regulate “touch therapy” establishments operating in the City of Philadelphia.  The Massage Therapy Act of 2008 was enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with the goal of  “regulating massage therapy; establishing the State Board of Massage Therapy; providing for funds, for licensure, for disciplinary action, for remedies, for penalties and for preemption.”  The Office of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, as a result of her ongoing investigation into human trafficking in Philadelphia, discovered a major loophole in the bill providing an exemption—“Nothing in this act shall be construed as preventing, restricting or requiring licensure of any of the following activities”—for individuals who use “touch to affect the energy systems, acupoints, Qi meridians or channels of energy of the human body…includ[ing] acupressure, Asian bodywork therapy, polarity therapy bodywork, quigon, reiki, shiatsu and tui na.”  “This bill will finally regulate an industry that has allowed some ‘bad apples’ to operate with an ‘anything goes’ approach, all under the auspices of ‘touch therapy,’” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.  “They are flagrantly violating the law right under the noses of law enforcement, casting a cloud of suspicion on the professionals that are actually practicing the legitimate healing techniques involved in touch therapy, and in the process, using and abusing women and girls who deserve a better life.  This is unacceptable.  I do not know how or why these exemptions were granted, but I can almost guarantee that they were not conceived of or implemented at the suggestion of a woman.”    What This Bill Would Do The Law requires that Touch Therapy Establishments in the City of Philadelphia:

  1. Apply for, acquire and, when appropriate, renew a valid, current Touch Therapy license to be issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
  2. The application will ask the applicant to record all criminal convictions, a statement detailing all instances in which the applicant had any professional or occupational license denied, suspended or revoked and all locations where the applicant will perform touch therapy. The fee for the application will be $100 or another amount as determined by the Department of Licenses and Inspections during the regulation process.
  3. The Department of Licenses of Inspections shall issue the license to an applicant who provides all information listed above except in the following cases:

i.      The applicant has been convicted of a crime of moral turpite. ii. The department has probable cause to believe the applicant has committed any crime in connection with the provision of Touch Therapy. Touch therapy business owners and operators will be required to display the license certificate at all locations where touch therapy is provided. Touch therapy business owners and operators must notify the Department of Licenses and Inspections of any change to the information provided in the initial application within fifteen days. Licenses will expire one year from date of issuance or a date determined by the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Enforcement and Penalties Fine: $300 Engaging in Touch Therapy without a valid, current license shall be a Class III offense.

For more information, to request a quote or interview, please contact Jason Lewis, Communications Manager at 215-686-3438.

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