2021 Regular Session

To: Public Health and Welfare

By: Senator(s) Harkins

Senate Bill 2751

(As Sent to Governor)



     SECTION 1.  Section 73-67-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     73-67-15.  (1)  The board shall:

          (a)  Adopt an official seal and keep a record of its proceedings, persons licensed as massage therapists, and a record of the licenses that have been revoked or suspended;

          (b)  Keep on file all appropriate records pertaining to each license;

          (c)  Annually, on or before February 15, make a report to the Governor and Legislature of all of its official acts during the preceding year, its total receipts and disbursements, and a full and complete report of relevant statistical and significantly notable conditions of massage therapists in this state as uniformly stipulated by the board;

          (d)  Evaluate the qualifications of applicants for licensure under this chapter, and advise applicants as to the acceptance or denial of licensure with any reasons for denial within forty-five (45) days;

          (e)  Issue licenses to applicants who meet the requirements of this chapter;

          (f)  Inspect, or have inspected, when required, the business premises of any licensed massage therapist during their operating hours, so long as that inspection does not infringe on the reasonable privacy of any therapist's clients;

          (g)  Establish minimum training and educational standards for obtaining a license under this chapter, provided that requirements do not decrease;

          (h)  Establish a procedure for approval of educational standards required by this chapter;

          (i)  Investigate persons suspected of engaging in practices that may violate provisions of this chapter;

          (j)  Revoke, suspend or deny a license in accordance with the provisions of this chapter;

          (k)  Adopt an annual budget;

          (l)  Establish policies with respect to continuing education;

          (m)  Adopt rules:

              (i)  Specifying standards and procedures for issuance of a provisional permit;

              (ii)  Specifying licensure procedures for practitioners desiring to be licensed in this state who hold an active license or credentials from another state board;

              (iii) * * *  The board shall prescribe  Prescribing renewal procedures, requirements, dates and fees for massage therapy licenses issued by the board and shall include provisions for inactive and lapsed licenses; those rules shall be in accordance with Section 33-1-39;

          (n)  Make available all forms necessary for carrying out all provisions of this chapter and any and all necessary business of the board;

          (o)  Establish written duties of the executive director;

          (p)  Establish a set of reasonable and customary fines and penalties for violations of this chapter, and fees, including refund policies, which shall be standardized and not exceeded unless amended with at least thirty (30) days' notice to those who are licensed;

          (q)  Establish, amend or repeal any rules or regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter and the duties and responsibilities of the board.  Affected practitioners shall be sent relevant changes no less than once per licensure renewal;

          (r) * * *  The board shall  Maintain a current register listing the name of every massage therapist licensed to practice in this state, his/her last known place of business and last known place of residence, and the date and number of his/her license;

          (s) * * *  The board shall  Set up guidelines for the operation of schools of massage therapy, and it is charged with that regulation in this state.  The board may prescribe reasonable rules and regulations governing schools of massage therapy for the guidance of persons licensed under this chapter in the operation of schools of massage therapy and in the practice of massage therapy.  When the board has reasons to believe that any of the provisions of this chapter or the rules and regulations of the board have been violated, either upon receipt of a written complaint alleging those violations or upon the board's own initiative, the board or any of its authorized agents shall investigate same and may enter upon the premises of a school of massage therapy at any time during regular business hours of that school to conduct the investigation.  The investigation may include, but not be limited to, conducting oral interviews with the complaining party, school or school owner(s) and/or students of the school, and reviewing records of the school pertinent to the complaint and related to an area subject to the authority of the board * * *.;

          (t)  Set up guidelines for the registration of establishments where massage services are performed and maintain a current registry of their location, owner contact information, local business permit information and names of licensees who perform massage services at their establishments;

          (u)  Share documents, materials, or other information, including confidential and privileged documents, materials, or information, received or maintained by the board with other state or federal agencies and with a national disciplinary database recognized by the board or as required by law, provided that the recipient agrees to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of the document, material, or other information;

          (v)  Report final disciplinary action taken against a licensee to other state or federal regulatory agencies and to a national disciplinary database recognized by the board or as required by law.

     (2)  Each board member shall be held accountable to the Governor for the proper performance of all duties and obligations of the member's office.  Board members shall be immune from civil liability pertaining to any legal functions involving the carrying out of the activities and responsibilities of this chapter.

     SECTION 2.  Section 73-67-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     73-67-17.  The board may adopt rules:

          (a)  Establishing reasonable standards concerning the sanitary, hygienic and healthful conditions of the licensed massage therapist and of premises and facilities used by massage therapists;

          (b)  Relating to the methods and procedures used in the practice of massage;

          (c)  Governing the examination and investigation of applicants for the licenses issued under this chapter and the issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of the license;

          (d)  Setting standards for certifying continuing education classes;

          (e)  Requiring that massage therapists supply the board with the accurate, current address or addresses where they practice massage;

          (f)  Establishing the educational, training and experience requirements for licensure by reciprocity;

          (g)  Establishing requirements for issuance and retention of an inactive license and/or provisional permits * * *.;

          (h)  Establishing requirements for registering massage therapy establishments.

     SECTION 3.  Section 73-67-19, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     73-67-19.  (1)  The board shall report to the proper district attorney all cases that, in the judgment of the board, warrant prosecution.

     (2)  Massage therapists or establishments may not be discriminated against regarding business licenses and shall be treated as any other health care profession.

     (3)  Any civil penalty imposed under this section shall become due and payable when the person incurring the penalty receives a notice in writing of the penalty.  The notice shall be sent by registered or certified mail.  The person to whom the notice is addressed shall have thirty (30) days from the date of mailing of the notice in which to make written application for a hearing.  Any person who makes that application shall be entitled to a hearing.  The hearing shall be conducted as a contested case hearing.  When an order assessing a civil penalty under this section becomes final by operation of law or on appeal, unless the amount of penalty is paid within ten (10) days after the order becomes final, it may be recorded with the circuit clerk in any county of this state.  The clerk shall then record the name of the person incurring the penalty and the amount of the penalty in his lien record book.

     (4)  Where the board proposes to refuse to grant or renew a license or proposes to revoke or suspend a license, an opportunity for a hearing shall be accorded.  The board may designate any competent person(s) to preside at the hearing.  The board shall promulgate rules for the conduct of hearings and issuance of orders.

     (5)  The board may adopt rules requiring any person, including, but not limited to, licensed massage therapists, corporations, organizations, health care facilities and state or local governmental agencies to report to the board any conviction, determination or finding that a holder of a license has committed an act that constitutes unprofessional conduct, or to report information that indicates that the holder of a license may not be able to practice his profession with reasonable skill and safety to consumers as a result of a mental, emotional or physical condition.  If the entity fails to furnish a required report, the board may petition the circuit court of the county in which the entity resides or is found, and the court shall issue to the entity an order to furnish the required report.  A failure to obey the order is a contempt of court.

     (6)  A person is immune from civil liability, whether direct or derivative, for providing information to the board.

     (7)  Upon the complaint of any citizen of this state, or upon its own motion, the board may investigate any alleged violation of this chapter.  In the conduct of investigations, the board may take evidence; take the depositions of witnesses, including the person charged; compel the appearance of witnesses, including the person charged, before the board in person the same as in civil cases; require answers to * * * interrogations interrogatories; and compel the production of books, papers, accounts, documents and testimony pertaining to the matter under investigation.

     (8)  The board shall make available, upon request, written appeals procedures for anyone whose license has been denied, suspended or revoked, and/or for anyone accused of violating any provisions of this chapter.

     (9)  Any time the board intends to deny an application for licensure, or suspend or revoke an existing license, the board shall give the person an opportunity for a hearing before taking final action.

     SECTION 4.  Section 73-67-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     73-67-21.  (1)  It shall be the responsibility of a massage therapy establishment to verify the current license of any and all persons practicing massage therapy at the location of or on behalf of the establishment.  Failure to comply is subject to penalty assessed by the board of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per offense.

     (2)  No person may advertise massage or practice massage for compensation in this state unless he is licensed as a massage therapist by the board.  No person may use the title of or represent himself to be a massage therapist or use any other title, abbreviations, letters, figures, signs or devices that indicate that the person is a massage therapist unless he is licensed to practice massage therapy under the provisions of this chapter.  A current massage therapy license issued by the board shall at all times be prominently displayed in any place where massage therapy is being practiced.

     (3)  The following are requirements for licensure:

          (a)  An applicant must be eighteen (18) years of age, or older, on the date the application is submitted.

          (b)  An application must provide proof of high school graduate equivalency.

          (c)  An applicant must be of legal status not only to receive a license, but also to work in the State of Mississippi with that license.

          (d)  An applicant must supply proof of current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid of at least eight (8) hours of training, including practical testing, and supply documentation of familiarity with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

          (e)  All required fees for licensure must be submitted by the applicant.

          (f)  Any and all requirements regarding good moral character and competency, as provided for in this chapter and in accepted codes of ethics, shall be met.

          (g)  An applicant must have completed an approved * * * continuing education course on communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS information and prevention.

          (h)  The applicant's official and certified transcript(s) from the applicant's massage therapy school.  The transcript must verify that the applicant has completed a board-approved training program of no less than the minimum requirement for * * * supervised in‑class massage therapy instruction and student clinic, with a minimum grade requirement of "C" or better in every course of instruction, as stated for school requirements.

     (4)  The following pre-act practitioners are exempt from having to take any examination for licensure, but must fulfill all other requirements as stated in this chapter, except for the requirements in subsection (3)(h) of this section:

          (a)  Those having more than three hundred (300) documented, board-accepted * * * in‑class hours of massage therapy education before January 1, 2001.

          (b)  Those having more than five (5) years of professional massage therapy experience and a minimum of one hundred fifty (150) hours of approved massage therapy education.

          (c)  Those having no formal training, but who have successfully passed the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

          (d)  All grandfathering exemption allowances as stated in this subsection (4) shall end on July 1, 2002, for nonstudents, and on June 1, 2003, for students who were enrolled in a part-time massage school curriculum on July 1, 2001.  Individuals may apply for a license until the grandfathering exemption ends, but may not practice massage beyond the allowed grace period as provided for in Section 73-67-37 unless a valid massage therapy license or provisional permit is obtained.  Except as provided in subsection (5) of this section, all other pre-act practitioners and anyone not practicing massage therapy before January 1, 2001, must take and pass the licensure examination and follow the requirements in this chapter to practice massage therapy for compensation in Mississippi.

          (e)  Students enrolled in a massage therapy curriculum of at least five hundred (500) hours on July 1, 2001, who complete graduation from the same curriculum.

     (5)  Any person who has practiced massage therapy for a period of more than twenty-five (25) years before March 14, 2005, who is employed as a massage therapist by a YMCA or YWCA authorized and existing as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of this state on March 14, 2005, is exempt from having to take any examination for licensure, but must fulfill all other requirements as stated in this chapter, except for the requirements in subsection (3)(b), (d), (g) and (h) of this section.  Persons exempt under this subsection may apply for a massage therapy license until January 1, 2006, but may not practice massage therapy after January 1, 2006, unless a valid license is obtained.

     (6)  Certificates of registration issued by the board before July 1, 2008, shall remain valid as licenses until the next renewal period.

     (7)  An applicant must have successfully been cleared for licensure through an investigation that shall consist of a determination as to good moral character and verification that the prospective licensee is not guilty of or in violation of any statutory ground for denial of licensure as set forth in Section 73-67-27.

          (a)  To assist the board in conducting its licensure investigation, all applicants shall undergo a fingerprint-based criminal history records check of the Mississippi central criminal database and the Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history database.  Each applicant shall submit a full set of the applicant's fingerprints in a form and manner prescribed by the board, which shall be forwarded to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (department) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Identification Division for this purpose.

          (b)  Any and all state or national criminal history records information obtained by the board that is not already a matter of public record shall be deemed nonpublic and confidential information restricted to the exclusive use of the board, its members, officers, investigators, agents and attorneys in evaluating the applicant's eligibility or disqualification for licensure, and shall be exempt from the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.  Except when introduced into evidence in a hearing before the board to determine licensure, no such information or records related thereto shall, except with the written consent of the applicant or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, be released or otherwise disclosed by the board to any other person or agency.

          (c)  The board shall provide to the department the fingerprints of the applicant, any additional information that may be required by the department, and a form signed by the applicant consenting to the check of the criminal records and to the use of the fingerprints and other identifying information required by the state or national repositories.

          (d)  The board shall charge and collect from the applicant, in addition to all other applicable fees and costs, such amount as may be incurred by the board in requesting and obtaining state and national criminal history records information on the applicant.

     SECTION 5.  Section 73-67-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     73-67-35.  (1)  To obtain a massage therapy license, an applicant must submit to the board the applicant's official and certified transcript(s) from the applicant's massage therapy school.  The transcript must verify that the applicant has completed a board-approved training program of not less than * * * six hundred (600) five hundred fifty (550) hours of * * * supervised in‑class massage therapy instruction, and at least * * * one hundred (100) fifty (50) hours of student clinic, with a minimum grade requirement of "C" or better in every course of instruction, in the following subjects:

          (a)  Two hundred (200) hours in massage theory and practicum;

          (b)  Two hundred (200) hours in science of the human body;

          (c) * * *  Two hundred (200)  One hundred fifty (150) hours in allied modalities; and

          (d) * * *  One hundred (100)  Fifty (50) hours in supervised student clinic.

     (2)  "Massage theory and practicum" must include a minimum of the following classroom hours in the specified subject areas:

          (a)  Ten (10) hours in legalities including Mississippi massage law and ethics;

          (b)  Twenty (20) hours in history, benefits, indications and contraindications;

          (c)  One hundred (100) hours in massage demonstration and supervised practice, which must include, but is not limited to, client evaluation, stroking, kneading, stretching, friction, percussion, vibration, range of motion, approved hand held tools and devices designated as t-bars or knobbies, and draping and turning; and

          (d)  The remaining seventy (70) hours may expand on any or all of the previous three (3) subject areas and/or be related to practical massage.

     (3)  "Science of the human body" must include a minimum of the following classroom hours in the specified subject areas:

          (a)  Twenty (20) hours in anatomy, including all body systems;

          (b)  Twenty (20) hours in physiology, including all body systems;

          (c)  Twenty (20) hours in myology/kinesiology;

          (d)  Twenty (20) hours in neurology;

          (e)  Twenty (20) hours in pathology, including medical terminology; and

          (f)  The remaining * * * one hundred (100) eighty (80) hours may expand on any or all of the previous six (6) subject areas and/or be related to the science of the human body.

     (4)  "Allied modalities" must include, but are not limited to, a minimum of the following classroom hours in the specified subject areas:

          (a)  Seven (7) hours in Eastern, European and Western theory/methods;

          (b)  Eight (8) hours in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid;

          (c)  Ten (10) hours in charting and documentation;

          (d)  Twenty-five (25) hours in hydrotherapy and infrared heat;

          (e)  Twenty (20) hours in referral methods within the health care system; and

          (f)  The remaining one hundred thirty (130) hours may expand on any or all of the previous five (5) subject areas, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, and/or be devoted to any approach to massage therapy and wellness, such as trigger points, management, communication, safety, oriental or Eastern massage techniques and specialized populations.  Schools with a temporary or probationary board status license must include a comprehensive review class of no less than sixteen (16) hours and three (3) hours to sit for and pass the board comprehensive exam.

     (5)  "Student clinic" must include at least fifty (50) practical hands-on one-hour massage therapy sessions to be evaluated on documents filed and kept on record at the school for a minimum of six (6) months.  These evaluations are to be completed by the clients of the massage therapy sessions and shall include the client's name, address, reason for session, indications and contraindications, date and signature.  Each completed session shall constitute * * * two (2) hours one (1) hour of student clinic.  The hands-on session must be supervised by an instructor, board licensed in the area being supervised.

     (6)  A massage therapy program shall not operate in the State of Mississippi unless it meets the minimum standards of curriculum for licensure as stated in this chapter.  Massage schools and massage curriculums for licensure preparation must obtain a national accreditation from such agencies as the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation or programs with the same or greater requirements.  Existing massage schools will have five (5) years from July 1, 2001, to obtain that accreditation.  New massage schools will have five (5) years from the opening of the massage school to show conformance with the accreditation requirements.  An existing accredited massage school that loses its accreditation will have three (3) years from the date of loss of its accreditation to show conformance with the accreditation requirements.

     (7)  No massage therapy program shall consist of more than forty (40) in-class clock hours per week.

     (8)  Hours credited through transfer credit shall not be recognized by the board unless the following transfer standards are met:

          (a)  The school shall be provided with a certified transcript from a school licensed or approved in that state;

          (b)  Courses for which credit is granted shall parallel in content and intensity to the course offered by the school;

          (c)  Documentation of previous training shall be included in each student's permanent file.

     (9)  Private business and vocational schools that have obtained national accreditation from an accrediting agency designated by the United States Department of Education may submit evidence of current accreditation in lieu of other application requests.  Applications submitted on evidence of national accreditation must be approved or denied within sixty (60) days after receipt.  If no action is taken within sixty (60) days, the application shall be deemed approved and a massage therapy license must be issued.

     SECTION 6.  Section 73-67-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     73-67-39.  Sections 73-67-1 through 73-67-37 shall stand repealed on July 1, * * * 2021 2025.

     SECTION 7.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2021.