Florida Passes Bill to Target Illicit Activity Disguised as Massage Therapy

The Florida Legislature has passed HB 197, a comprehensive bill aimed at regulating certain healthcare practitioners and massage therapy establishments. Effective July 1, 2024, this legislation enhances oversight to eliminate illicit activities operating under the guise of massage therapy.

Key Provisions of the Bill include:

Immediate License Suspension: The Department of Health is authorized to immediately suspend the license of massage therapists and establishments if they are involved in serious offenses, including human trafficking and sexual misconduct.
Enhanced Reporting and Recordkeeping: Massage establishments are required to maintain detailed employment records in English or Spanish, and to verify and record customer identities before providing services.
Prohibited Activities and Devices: The bill prohibits sexual activity and the presence of certain devices within massage establishments, aiming to reduce illicit activities.
Visibility and Signage: Establishments must ensure at least 35% light penetration through reception area windows and must display required information visibly.
Employee Dress Code: Employees are mandated to wear fully opaque, non-transparent clothing.
Human Trafficking Awareness: Specific rules are designed to help identify and prevent human trafficking within massage establishments.

Department of Health Reporting

The bill also mandates regular reporting by the Department of Health on the massage therapy industry's financial status, complaints, and disciplinary actions. AMTA supports these measures that provide law enforcement with additional tools to help eradicate illicit behaviors which have no place in the massage therapy profession.

It should be noted that some provisions within the legislation have not yet been fully defined. We expect these outstanding questions to be addressed once the rules have been implemented. AMTA will continue to monitor and engage in the process and will provide updates as they become available. In the interim, we encourage you to reach out to our Government Relations Team with any questions.