2018 Bills

HB 323: Exempting Bowenwork from Massage Therapy Licensure

This bill passed the house 38-33 and was not voted on by the Senate 

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Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

Bowenwork is the practice of using small stimulations on specific points of the body to elicit nerve responses that help the body’s nervous system balance itself. Participants are clothed and private areas of the body are not touched. It is a holistic form of healing that has grown in popularity as an alternative treatment method for back pain, migraines, and fibromyalgia.

The American Bowenwork Academy teaches and certifies individuals to professionally practice, requiring 340 hours for certification—but in Utah, that’s not enough. In Utah, state regulators have shut down bowenwork practitioners, arguing that they must obtain a massage therapy license—which includes paying well over $10,000 to attend at least 600 hours of instruction. Of course, these schools do not even teach bowenwork, and the state does not recognize the private certification of bowenwork practitioners from the American Bowen Academy.

Late last year, members of the Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee heard from bowenwork practitioners requesting exemption from the massage therapy licensure laws. Two licensed massage therapists testified against the request, arguing that this form of light touch was “manipulation” of the client’s body and therefore they should have to obtain a massage therapy license.

Despite the opposition, the committee unanimously supported exempting bowenwork from the massage therapy requirements. Representative Marc Roberts agreed to sponsor the bill, which is now House Bill 323. The bill also expands the exemption for reflexology to a definition that makes more sense for those practitioners.

Utahns should not be forced to pay tuition and sit in class at a school that does not even teach them what they wish to learn and do. Exempting these provisions, and merely requiring they obtain a certification from their industry association, should suffice.

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