At Mondays City Council meeting the first reading of a new proposed city ordinance requiring Massage Therapists to register with the City, have insurance and comply with other rules was met with opposition and not for the reasons youâ€™d think.
Itâ€™s not rules and regulation that those opposed are contesting. They say with the loopholes already available at the state level providing exceptions for licensing and registration, those who want to break the law will just take advantage of those loopholes.
Julie Roan, a massage therapist for 23 years, says itâ€™s hard to be lumped with drug dealers, prostitutes, and human traffickers. I want to make it clear we are not prostitutes. Lonnie Jensen says itâ€™s not called a parlor itâ€™s called a therapy center. I help a lot of people manage pain in the city. Iâ€™m not supportive of how itâ€™s written. Kathy Jensen says I take it very personal and I have a lot of problems with this ordinance. Itâ€™s not about the fee or paperwork. These people are not prostitutes, and illicit businesses are not massage therapy. There needs to be education to separate the two. Why arenâ€™t the spas in this? Why arenâ€™t the chiropractors in this? Why doesnâ€™t every business need to be licensed? You arenâ€™t going to prevent illegal sex acts with this ordinance.
Bernadette Rixner Co-Chair of Siouxland Coalition against human trafficking said; We are pleased this ordinance is before you and hope you will pass it. The number of massage parlors increase is way higher than the demand. We know the legitimate business will be ok with this ordinance. A good number of new parlors are involved in sex and human trafficking.
Council voted 5 to 0 on the first reading of the ordinance. They urged those in opposition to work with local law enforcement and the city Attorney to help make the ordinance beneficial including changing the wording for hour restricting and insurance amount requirements or loopholes. Law Enforcement and the Council believe that making those providing massage therapy services to register will deter prostitution and sex trafficking. Council wants local regulation so they have the ability to prosecute.
Sioux City Police in attendance said that many businesses going under the radar are unlicensed by the state are not able to be prosecuted because of confusion with the county attorneys office as to whether the acts are illegal as many businesses are not operating as a massage therapist. He says that citations that have been written have been dropped. The proposed ordinance would follow the state guidelines for who needs to register and license therefore the businesses they are trying to stop wonâ€™t even be affected by this ordinance according to some that attended.
Watch the discussion playback at https://youtu.be/K2UIfTGkoHA?t=6234