LB588 – Exempt reflexology from licensure
Good afternoon, Chairman Riepe and members of the HHS Committee. My name is Sarah Curry and I am the Policy Director for the Platte Institute for Economic Research. I’d like to thank Senator Crawford for introducing LB 588. I am here today to testify in support of this bill.
Nebraska faces a workforce shortage, and occupational licensing creates a significant labor force issue. Nearly 200 different occupations in Nebraska require a government license, affecting nearly 1 in 4 workers. This is negatively impacting small businesses trying to hire employees, potential entrepreneurs wanting to start a business and individuals (both current and potential residents) seeking a means to earn an honest living. Reform of occupational licensing laws to lessen burdensome regulation is an economic issue that needs to be addressed.
Occupational licensing laws were initially created as a means of protecting the public from negligent and unqualified practitioners, but more and more, instead of protecting the public from harm, we now understand that occupational licensing is making it difficult for new workers to enter the workforce.
Currently, Nebraska law requires persons desiring to work solely as a reflexologist seek licensure as a massage therapist. In order to obtain a Nebraska license as a massage therapist, a license applicant must complete a massage therapy program of at least 1000 clock hours and pass either the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB) or the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board's Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). In Nebraska, this means a time commitment of 9-20 months to complete the program and a financial obligation of $7845-16,335 in tuition and fees depending upon which of the state’s programs one chooses. In reviewing the coursework descriptions of the available programs in the state, one describes an 84 hour “Advanced Complimentary Therapies” course with no mention of reflexology as it describes various therapies covered, and another describes a 125 hour course where reflexology is mentioned as 1 of 6 therapies covered. In other words, out of 1000 required hours, in the second program, approximately 20 hours is dedicated to reflexology, which is 2% of total hours.
A representative from the American Reflexology Association is testifying today, and she will highlight the requirements for reflexology certification for the individual who desires to just practice reflexology alone.
Reflexology is exempt from massage laws in 34 states and the District of Columbia. There are 4 states that have no massage law, and reflexology is not regulated or licensed. Our neighbors, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and South Dakota exempt reflexology from massage law. Kansas and Wyoming do not have massage laws.
How does Nebraska compare? The short answer is that we don’t. Our licensing requirements are burdensome!
I ask the committee to consider 2 questions. The first question I’d like to pose is, “If your desire was to start a business providing only reflexology services to clients, would you be willing to obtain a massage therapy degree at the previously mentioned time and cost so that you could practice in Nebraska, or would you consider opening that business somewhere else?” The second question I’d like to pose is, ”If you were a reflexologist who had practiced for several years in one of the 34 states in addition to the District of Columbia where reflexology is exempted from massage, and you were needing to move to a city/town on one of Nebraska’s borders (for instance, due to spouse job relocation), would you be willing to go back and get your massage therapy degree (remember the prior mentioned time/cost) so that you could get licensed so you could practice in Nebraska, or would you go across the border to the neighboring state to work?”
LB 343 will exempt those wanting to solely practice reflexology from having to obtain licensing as a massage therapist. This will make Nebraska more consistent and competitive with our neighboring states, so that we keep individuals from leaving our state in search of work elsewhere and provide greater reciprocity for workers wanting to move to Nebraska.
Before concluding my testimony today, I’d like to mention that in preparation for today’s hearing, the Platte Institute found it difficult to find reflexologists to come today to speak in person. A few individuals who have called us in support of this bill are practicing without a license and fear being served a cease and desist order. They were encouraged to submit written testimony as an alternative. If they could openly practice without first having to go to massage school and get licensed, they would be able to grow their businesses and contribute to our state’s economy.
The Platte Institute for Economic Research strongly supports occupational licensing reform as a means of lessening burdens to those trying to enter the state’s workforce. I ask that you advance LB 343 out of committee.
Again, I’d like to thank Senator Crawford for sponsoring this bill and thank the committee for allowing me the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions that you may have.