News Release: Legislative Testimonies for March 20
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Legislative Testimonies for March 20: LB347 & LB581
Bills Impact Job Licensing & Local Government Accounting
LINCOLN, NE – Today, the Platte Institute will testify in support of Sen. Dave Murman’s Legislative Bill 347 and Sen. Joni Albrecht’s Legislative Bill 581.
LB347 would exempt the practice of reflexology from the state’s massage therapy licensing law. Reflexology is a personal care service that involves a practitioner using their hands to apply pressure to the feet, hands, and outer ear.
LB581 would require most local governments in Nebraska to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are accounting standards used by publicly traded companies that are preferred by bond rating agencies. Currently, only a handful of local governments in Nebraska voluntarily use accounting methods that comply with GAAP, along with the state’s Natural Resource Districts.
Platte Institute Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox will testify on LB347 before the Health and Human Services Committee. The hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. in State Capitol room 1510. LB347 is currently the third and final bill on the agenda.
Currently, reflexology can only be performed lawfully in Nebraska by licensed massage therapists. Nebraska has the country’s most time-consuming requirement for earning a massage therapy license, at 1,000 hours of classroom training. Most states require a range of 500 to 700 hours for massage therapy, and exempt reflexology from massage therapy licensing.
“Reflexology is exempt from massage laws in 32 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,” said Fox.
“Out of the 1,000 required hours of massage training potential reflexologists are required to take, approximately 20-30 hours is dedicated to reflexology at most,” said Fox.
The Platte Institute first learned about Nebraska’s treatment of reflexology practitioners in 2016 when Connie Young, a certified but unlicensed reflexologist from Omaha, reached out to the Institute. Young practiced out of her home for years without incident, but then received a cease and desist order from the state Department of Health and Human Services after teaching a class on reflexology at a local massage therapy school.
Typically, cease and desist orders detail the criminal penalties unlicensed practitioners can face if they continue to work without a license. Young’s letter said she could receive a felony charge for continuing her reflexology practice.
“We can charge you with a felony for working with people’s feet and hands,” Young told the Lincoln Journal Star in 2016. “That just seemed crazy.”
Young temporarily moved her business to Council Bluffs, Iowa, which does not license reflexology, before relocating to Indiana.
In 2018, Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry submitted an application for reflexology to be reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ 407 Credentialing Review process. In an effort to determine whether medical professionals on the review panel deemed it necessary for the field to be licensed, Curry proposed in the application that reflexology be granted its own licensing requirement that more closely reflected the industry training standards common among those solely practicing reflexology.
In a July 2018 report responding to the application, former DHHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Williams noted that he did not think licensing was necessary for reflexology.
“Given that Reflexology is arguably safely unregulated in most states, it is difficult to justify Nebraska holding possibly the most arduous Reflexology requirements in the United States…It is difficult to conceive of any treatment or approach more medically risk free than Reflexology,” wrote Dr. Williams.
Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry will testify on LB581 before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. The hearing begins at 1:30 p.m. in State Capitol room 1507, and the bill is first on the agenda.
The bill’s statement of intent says LB581 aims to “encourage accessible, uniform, and easy to understand budgets and audit reports of political subdivisions,” by requiring most local governments to use accounting methods and publish budget statements that comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
“Nebraska is somewhat of an outlier in government accounting standards. Most states require local governments to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, whereas Nebraska mostly does not,” said Curry.
Curry is the author of the report “Accounting for Property Taxes,” in which she argues that local governments and taxpayers would have a clearer picture of local taxes and spending by adopting accrual-based accounting methods that are in compliance with GAAP. Accrual-based accounting more accurately accounts financial obligations that governments have in the long-term, even if the related financial transactions for those expenses have not yet taken place.
Most local governments in Nebraska use cash basis or modified accrual accounting methods, both of which are not GAAP-compliant.
“A disadvantage of the cash method is that it might overstate the health of a government that is cash-rich but has large amounts of future payables or liabilities that far exceed the cash on hand,” said Curry.
Fox and Curry’s testimonies are available online at PlatteInstitute.org/Testimony.
To schedule an interview on these topics, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 452-3737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. More media resources are available at PlatteInstitute.org/Media.