The Kansas Board of Cosmetology is looking to regulate the massage industry. The board is meeting Monday to discuss what they would like to put into legislation that they would promote when the legislature returns in January.
According to Chiquita Coggs, executive director of the Kansas Board of Cosmetology, the legislature failed to pass bills every year between 2012 and 2015 that would’ve imposed statewide regulation on the massage industry.
However, none of these bills included licensing facilities, which is what Coggs says would make the real impact.
“We actually encounter a lot of unlicensed practice in a lot of our facilities so I think that we would have a large impact on preventing a lot of the unwanted and undesirable massage therapy salons,” said Coggs.
The industry has been under intense scrutiny in Kansas after human trafficking busts in massage therapy salons in Topeka and Lawrence in recent years. It’s an issue that Coggs says the Kansas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board has proven needs to be addressed.
“That board itself recognizes that massage therapy is one of the avenues for that. They’ve also established and determined that Kansas is a crossroads for human trafficking in the country because we are in the center of the country,” said Coggs.
Regulation has been controversial within the industry. There are some massage therapists that believe the industry should be regulated by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts of the Kansas Board of Nursing, although Coggs points out that neither one of those boards do inspections.
The City of Overland Park has also been an opponent of statewide regulation in the past. Overland Park regulates massage therapy on a municipal level and if regulations were enacted statewide the city would lose revenue.
Coggs says this is a debate they will be watching closely when the legislature returns in January.