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Hopkins Could Tighten Massage Education Requirements

The city has had an increasingly hard time determining whether massage schools are real or fake.

A new business license for massage establishments advanced Tuesday, but could add stricter education requirements before City Council members give it their final approval.

Council members unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would require most businesses offering massage services to obtain the new license and go through a background check. No business would be grandfathered in, although massage therapists working under licensed medical professionals would not need to have the business license.

The city currently licenses individual masseuses, not entire businesses. Staff proposed a new business license when .

But city staff are also running into another problem. Masseuses must show they’ve completed 500 of training from a recognized massage school—and it’s increasingly unclear whether some schools are legitimate or fake. Hopkins recently rejected permits because it had doubts the schools were genuine, said Jim Genellie, Hopkins’ assistant city manager.

owner Heidi Knight broached the issue at Tuesday’s council meeting, asking the city directly how they follow up on transcripts.

Answered Genellie: “Frankly, you bring up a good, interesting point. That is becoming a more difficult thing to do.”

Under the current system, verifying a school isn’t easy unless no one is on the other end of the line. If someone does answer, the city has a hard time determining whether it genuinely offers massage training without incurring fees that quickly make the required background check cost prohibitive.

Knight, who is listed as certified through Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, suggested the city consider only allowing schools approved by a nationally certified board.

Genellie promised to have the city attorney review the idea. If it passes muster, it could be inserted into the proposed ordinance when it comes back for second reading Dec. 6.

“I think it would be an excellent addition to the ordinance,” he said.

As it stands now, Genellie expects the new license to carry a one-time $50 background fee and an annual fee of $20 to $25.

“The overwhelming number of our massage establishments are law-abiding—always have been law-abiding,” Genellie said. “We want to make this as minimally intrusive as possible (while) at the same time giving the city the authority to revoke a license if it comes to that.”

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