Massage therapists; licensure required by Board of Nursing. (HB543)

Introduced By

Del. Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield) with support from co-patron Del. Betsy Carr (D-Richmond)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Licensed massage therapists.  Requires that massage therapists be licensed, rather than certified, by the Board of Nursing.  The bill also allows the Board of Nursing to issue a provisional license valid until July 1, 2014, to any individual who meets the current requirements for certification as a massage therapist. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/10/2012Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/12 12102098D
01/10/2012Referred to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions
01/16/2012Assigned HWI sub: #3
01/20/2012Assigned HWI sub: #2
01/23/2012Impact statement from DPB (HB543)
01/31/2012Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (5-Y 0-N)
02/02/2012Reported from Health, Welfare and Institutions with substitute (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/02/2012Committee substitute printed 12104358D-H1
02/03/2012Read first time
02/06/2012Impact statement from DPB (HB543H1)
02/06/2012Read second time
02/06/2012Committee substitute agreed to 12104358D-H1
02/06/2012Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB543H1
02/07/2012Read third time and passed House BLOCK VOTE (98-Y 0-N)
02/07/2012VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (98-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/08/2012Constitutional reading dispensed
02/08/2012Referred to Committee on Education and Health
02/15/2012Assigned Education sub: Health Licensing
02/23/2012Reported from Education and Health (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/23/2012Passed by for the day
02/24/2012Constitutional reading dispensed (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/27/2012Read third time
02/27/2012Passed by for the day
02/28/2012Read third time
02/28/2012Passed Senate (34-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
03/05/2012Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB543ER)
03/05/2012Impact statement from DPB (HB543ER)
03/05/2012Signed by Speaker
03/07/2012Signed by President
04/09/2012Governor's recommendation received by House
04/09/2012Governor's substitute printed 12106346D-H2
04/17/2012Placed on Calendar
04/18/2012House concurred in Governor's recommendation (94-Y 0-N)
04/18/2012VOTE: ADOPTION (94-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
04/18/2012Senate concurred in Governor's recommendation (27-Y 11-N) (see vote tally)
04/18/2012G Governor's recommendation adopted
04/18/2012Reenrolled bill text (HB543ER2)
04/18/2012Signed by Speaker as reenrolled
04/18/2012Signed by President as reenrolled
04/18/2012G Approved by Governor-Chapter 764 (effective 7/1/12)
04/18/2012G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0764)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 3 clips in all, totaling 6 minutes.


Ann Bisson writes:


I do not support this bill. Both massage therapists and massage technicians have a right to earn a living in Virginia. Many jobs will be lost. Consumers will lose the right to choice as to who they choose to do massage: a massage therapist or a massage technician.

Steven Fuller, an economist from George Mason University, is predicting massage technicians, massage therapists and physical therapists to be the number two (2) job growth in Northern Virginia. By preventing massage technicians from practicing, there will be high demand and low supply, leading to higher prices for all consumers.

Massage has evolved incredibly from being perceived as another name for prostitution. Many therapies from the Far East are now used for wellness all over the globe with success. Please do not take this choice away from consumers and demand massage practitioners (technicians) and others to pass an exam that will not be possible without reading and writing English.

I will look forward to watching this bill in the hopes that you will give very serious consideration to the effect it could have on not only the practitioners, but the public's right to choose in addition to loss of jobs and livlihoods of people.

Feel free to contact me if you would like additional information.

Thank you.

Ann Bisson

David Roylance writes:

I do not support the passing of this bill. Currently, the state of Virginia has massage laws in effect that ensure the community is protected and that the community has choice in the types of massage therapy they patronize.

The current Virginia law allows for individuals to be certified massage therapists or massage technicians. This bill would take away the option of professional individuals and legitimate businesses to function thus eliminating options to the community, eliminating jobs, and eliminating small businesses.

This bill would require all individuals to be forced to study one type of massage therapy regardless of their interest, desires, personal choices, or career interest. There are many people that settle in our state from other countries that have been performing massage since birth as a major part of their cultural heritage - passed down from elders. There is no test, requirement, or law that can adequately judge whether these individuals should be able to offer massage to the public. These individuals are currently offering massage to the Virginia public - safely and professionally. We have helped countless individuals that have had challenges seeking quality massage therapy from western massage providers and those trained in "standard" schools that this bill supports.

Passing this bill would limit choices to the community, eliminate jobs and close existing businesses. This bill will limit personal choices of individuals to pursue massage therapy programs they desire and instead force them to study "one standard curriculum" thus eliminating diverse massage choices in our community.

There are no known major incidents that this bill would help resolve in the community but rather have the effect of discriminating against minority classes of people that have done massage therapy their entire life (30+ years). This bill, if adopted, would immediately have the effect of putting people out of work. Individuals that have been training to gain employment would need to start over after years and 1000's of dollars invested.

I urge you to look deeper at the effects of this bill.

Cable Jones writes:

I have recently read House Bill 543 and am very disappointed in the recommendation to require licensure by massage therapists instead of certification by the Board of Nursing in Virginia. The criteria set up by western medicine, specifically, the Board of Nursing, will not have the expertise or knowledge of some specific massage modalities which only the countries of origin can regulate properly. Laws are already in place in Virginia to regulate all massage businesses and adding these additional requirements will put undue hardship on already strained resources of small business across Virginia.

This bill seeks to take away established professional structure that already exists in the various massage modalities and seeks to eliminate the knowledge and training of massage masters in Virginia.

This bill takes away the effectiveness of massage therapists to perform professionally in the work place by adding layer upon layer of additional requirements to become licensed instead of certified.

I do not vote for this bill for it limits my choices in massage treatment and causes hardship on various minorities.

Anne Golla writes:

As consumer of massage in DC and Virginia, I do not support creating a licensing requirement for Virginia massage and bodywork practitioners. Requiring licensing would significantly limit consumer freedom of choice by decreasing the types of modalities of bodywork available and limiting the consumer's right to see a practitioner who has trained extensively in Eastern modalities in another country, in a specialized program devoted to that modality, or in a traditional framework rather than in a US school.

Massage schools that provide licensing in the US generally provide extensive training only in a few types of Western massage (Swedish, deep tissue, and related modalities). They may offer a limited hours of training in "Eastern modalities," but this training generally addresses only a couple of standardized modalities, does not include key traditional components of the practice, and typically does not go into substantial depth. In my experience as a consumer, someone without an LMT but with experience and specialization in their modality of choice usually provides a much better standard of service for me than someone with an LMT who is well trained in Western massage but not in that modality.

In DC, restrictive laws on massage have made it difficult to find an experienced massage practitioner specialized in the skills I need - thus, I have had to travel to Virginia on occasion for bodywork or work with someone offering a different modality. I suspect it has also driven many practitioners into the grey economy. This means that they cannot carry insurance and thus opens the consumer up to increased risk.

Which type of bodywork or which practitioner is best for an individual is subjective. The modality or practitioner that works for one person may have no results for another. Therefore, I feel consumers themselves are the ones who are best qualified to choose what type of bodywork to receive and which practitioner to go to. Imposing this choice on the Board of Nursing is likely only to result in an increased paperwork burden for the state and therapists and reduced choice for consumers.

Karen writes:

All massage practitioners in Virginia should be required to be licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Why should some people be allowed to work without a license, with unknown education and still earn the same living as someone who jumped through all the hoops and met all the requirements?

Martha writes:

Many people who seek massage for pain relief have other physical issues which need to be addressed. If a massage professional isn't properly licensed and trained and doesn't understand basic anatomy and health consequences of muscle manipulation the patient receiving a massage could be negatively impacted. Massage therapists should be licensed just as your stylist and manicurist are licensed.