WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 41 – The state generally required a license to work as a massage therapist or bodywork therapy, to describe oneself as a massage therapist, bodywork therapist, masseur or masseuse, or to use titles related to massage therapy or bodywork therapy. Violations were punishable by forfeitures of not more than $1,000 for each violation.
Act 41 prohibits a person from hiring a person to perform massage services anyone who is not properly licensed or is exempt from the license requirement. The law also authorizes municipalities to enforce local ordinances that prohibit the provision of massage therapy or bodywork therapy by unlicensed individuals and that prohibit unlicensed individuals from calling themselves massage therapists or bodywork therapists.
The penalty for violating the state law was increased to a criminal fine of $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, or both. Municipalities can impose forfeitures of up to $1,000 for each ordinance violation and the board that licenses massage therapists can assess a civil forfeiture of up to $1,000 for each violation of the state law, or may issue a reprimand, a license revocation, a license suspension, or can refuse to issue a license.
The law was introduced as AB 143; its companion Senate bill was SB 133.
The lead authors of the bill were State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) and Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield). Lead co-sponsors were State Senators Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Nov. 21, 2019.
Department of Safety and Professional Services – DSPS does not have sufficient information available to determine what fiscal impact this would have on local governments.
Sanfelippo – Police in West Allis and Waukesha have uncovered prostitution and human trafficking occurring in multiple massage therapy businesses in their cities. Unfortunately, these have not been the only areas in Wisconsin where such illicit activities have taken place. Another recent story indicates that a New Berlin massage therapy business owner was keeping a place of prostitution and could face up to six years in prison. There have also been incidents reported in Greenfield and Franklin, as well as in other communities throughout the state....
The vast majority of businesses that offer massage therapy services are professional, operate with the greatest of integrity, and follow the law. Unfortunately, a few bad actors involved in human trafficking are tarnishing the entire industry. Current statutes are unclear and leave very limited recourse for our local communities to take swift action in the event that an unscrupulous operation is discovered. A
fter City of West Allis officials contacted our office asking for help, we worked with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services to come up with a plan that would empower local governments to take enforcement actions while still maintaining the current state level licensure model.
Registering for the bill
American Massage Therapy Association, Wisconsin Chapter; League of Wisconsin Municipalities; and Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Inc.
Registering against the bill
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