BILL SUMMARY for HB16-1320
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
07:47 PM -- HB16-1320
Representative Foote, prime sponsor, presented House Bill 16-1320, concerning the regulation of massage therapy to modify practices that are linked to criminal behavior. Representative Foote explained the effect of the bill, and requested that testimony be taken on the bill and that the bill be laid over for work on amendments.
07:50 PM -- Mr. Joe Neguse, Executive Director for the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), testified in support of the bill. Director Neguse laid out DORA's plan for addressing human trafficking through the bill, and discussed the stakeholder process associated with the bill's drafting. Director Neguse responded to questions regarding what constitutes aiding and abetting practices prohibited by the bill.
07:55 PM -- Mr. Russell Klein, representing the Office of the Attorney General, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Klein discussed his office's role in litigating massage therapy licensure, and illegal sex trafficking that takes place under the guise of massage therapy. Mr. Klein discussed the benefits of the legislation in addressing sex trafficking. Mr. Klein responded to questions regarding the scope of sex trafficking that takes place under the guise of massage therapy, and current laws that address the issue. Discussion ensued regarding certain broad language in the bill, and the source of the language.
Mr. Klein responded to questions regarding DORA's jurisdiction in the area of massage therapy, and the impact of the bill on licensing of individual massage therapists. Discussion returned to what behavior constitutes aiding or abetting under the bill.
08:11 PM -- Ms. Kathryn Stewart, representing the American Massage Therapy Association, testified in support of HB 16-1320. Ms. Stewart discussed efforts to regulate the practice of massage therapy. Ms. Stewart responded to questions regarding types of practices that would continue to be exempt from regulation under the umbrella of massage therapy.
08:17 PM -- Ms. Stephane Benitez, representing the FBI and the Colorado Trafficking and Organized Crime Coalition, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Benitez discussed efforts to investigate prostitution and human trafficking activities that operate as massage therapy, and provided input on how the bill will support these efforts. Discussion returned to the aiding and abetting language in the bill. Ms. Benitez responded to questions regarding charges that can be brought under the bill, and the role of organized crime in sex trafficking through massage parlors.
Discussion ensued regarding whether the problem of addressing sex trafficking through massage parlors is enforcement versus regulatory in nature. Ms. Benitez responded to questions regarding the scope of the sex trafficking problem, and the potential for pursuing the illegal business through racketeering or other statutes.
08:35 PM -- Mr. Jim DeLashmutt, representing the City of Lakewood, testified in support of HB 16-1320. Mr. DeLashmutt discussed efforts to combat illegitimate massage operations, and explained how the bill will help further these efforts.
08:39 PM -- Ms. Maureen Cain, representing the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute and the Criminal Relief Project, testified in support of the bill as amended. Ms. Cain raised some concerns about the bill, which she said may be addressed through amendment, and discussed efforts that the criminal defense community has supported under the idea that such efforts would thwart criminal activity. Ms. Cain responded to questions regarding the effect of the bill on the ability of local governments to craft their own regulations to combat illicit massage parlors. Ms. Cain responded to further questions regarding laws currently available to law enforcement to combat human trafficking.
08:48 PM -- Ms. Meghan Dollar and Mr. Eric Bergman, representing the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties, Incorporated, testified on the bill from a neutral perspective. Mr. Bergman discussed some potential amendments to the bill that would bolster local regulatory authority, and the stakeholder process involved in crafting the bill. Ms. Dollar provided input on the local regulatory authority issue.
08:51 PM -- Mr. Michael Driscoll, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill if it remains unamended. Mr. Driscoll discussed the merits of keeping certain forms of body manipulation exempt from the regulations concerning massage therapy, and keeping the exemptions in statute rather than moving them to the DORA rulemaking process.
08:55 PM -- Ms. Vivian Gettliffe, representing herself, testified in opposition to the bill unless amended. Ms. Gettliffe spoke against the removal from statute of an exemption for structural integration from massage therapy regulation.
08:58 PM -- Mr. Brandon DeKock, representing himself, testified in support of amending HB 16-1320 to keep in state law the exemptions of certain practices from massage therapy regulation. Mr. DeKock read a letter from the Feldenkrais Guild of North America to this effect (Attachment D). Mr. DeKock discussed the Feldenkrais practice, and suggested some amendments to the bill. Mr. DeKock responded to questions regarding exempting certain practices from massage therapy in DORA rule rather than in state law.
09:08 PM -- Mr. Al Wadleigh, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill unless amended. Mr. Wadleigh provided input on the Feldenkrais practice.
09:13 PM -- Ms. Lauren Larson, representing DORA, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Larson discussed the impetus behind the bill, and efforts on the part of DORA to minimize licensing burdens. Ms. Larson addressed certain concerns raised by previous witnesses, and discussed certain cases that have involved unlawful sexual contact under the guise of legitimate body manipulation practices. Ms. Larson excerpted a letter from the Fourth Judicial District (Attachment E). Ms. Larson responded to questions regarding how she anticipates that DORA will craft rules that exempt certain practices from massage therapy regulation.
Ms. Larson responded to questions regarding the most comprehensive regulatory and legal scheme for addressing illegal sexual activity taking place under the guise of massage therapy, including regulation at the local level. Ms. Larson responded to further questions regarding the potential for DORA to explicitly grant regulatory authority to local governments in the area of massage therapy.
Representative Foote requested that the bill be laid over for further work on amendments.
The committee adjourned.