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New massage laws challenged

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Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2003 8:32 am | Updated: 1:15 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

A nonprofit lawyers’ group has sent a letter to the Scottsdale mayor and City Council claiming the proposed change in Scottsdale's massage laws violates the Arizona and U.S. constitutions.

The Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest group, said in the letter addressed to Mayor Mary Manross, that the proposal's regulations "reveal the mistaken belief that working in a profession is a privilege rather than a right."

The proposed ordinance, intended to crack down on illicit massage parlors that are a front for prostitution, would establish a Board of Massage Examiners to administer certification tests for massage therapists.

That certification requirement is at the crux of the Institute for Justice's complaint.

"The national certification requirement could put extremely qualified therapists out of a job — or at least force them out of Scottsdale," the letter reads.

According to the letter, the only credible national organization that offers massage therapist certification is the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

That board, though, is a private organization and retains the ability to deny any person's request to take the exam.

"Placing such unfettered discretion in the hands of a private body is an unconstitutional delegation of governmental power," the letter says.

It also states that the board is unconstitutional because "the test requires applicants to have knowledge of massage therapy practices that many applicants would never use."

The letter concludes with the promise that the Institute for Justice will immediately consider filing a legal challenge to the ordinance if it is adopted by the council on June 3.

The institute did not answer phone calls at its office in Phoenix. Councilman Tom Silverman declined to comment on the letter because he hadn't seen it. No other council member could be reached for comment, and Manross did not return calls to her office by press time.

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